The Histories (Old Black Joe)
Corbett vs. Dempsey
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Two very unusual works by the always-enigmatic Van Dyke Parks – both of them variations on older compositions from the middle of the 19th Century! "Old Black Joe" is a famous tune by Stephen Foster – but Parks' version here features this avant take on upright piano, mixed with odd-tuned guitar lines, muted vocals, and all these other strange sonic elements that actually make the whole thing feel like Christian Marclay is playing with the sound on a stack of vintage 78s! The whole thing makes for an unusual refraction of the sense of American history we often love in Van Dyke's music – given a slightly straighter spin on the flipside, which is a beautiful piano/violin/mandolin take on "Souvenir De La Havane", penned by Louis Gottschalk