After working with Beach Boy genius Brian Wilson on Smile, the pop masterpiece that never was, Van Dyke Parks set his sights on his solo debut. Released in 1967 on Warner Bros., the lavish Song Cycle is arguably the aesthetic peak of what music critic Paul Williams once tagged the "new wave of psychedelic Tin Pan Alley." It's a truly phantasmagoric listening experience, one steeped in American history, geography and mythology. Yet it's also a deeply personal statement. Woven into the surreal poetics are the pain and anguish the composer was suffering from after the recent death of his brother.