Orange Crate Art is the first collaborative studio album by American musicians Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks, released in 1995 on Warner Bros. Records. The album consists mostly of songs written and arranged by Parks, with Wilson featured as lead and backing vocalist. Its title refers to the sun-drenched, idealized paintings that grace wooden fruit crates, and its theme is a nostalgic view of the history of California.

Orange Crate Art
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 24, 1995 (1995-10-24)
GenreArt pop
LabelWarner Bros. 45427
ProducerVan Dyke Parks
Brian Wilson chronology
I Just Wasn't Made for These Times
Orange Crate Art
Van Dyke Parks chronology
Tokyo Rose
Orange Crate Art
Moonlighting: Live at the Ash Grove


In the thirty years following their collaboration on the ill-fated Beach Boys' Smile project, Wilson and Parks had each developed their own solo careers.

Sometime in 1992, Parks approached a then-reclusive Wilson with the invitation to record an album together. Wilson was in the middle of a court-ordered removal and restraining order from his psychiatrist, which came as a result of years of over-medication and gross misconduct. According to Parks, "The reason why I asked him was to take care of this unfinished business, and to try to escape from the tyranny of the sense of history that's been placed on our own aborted effort. [Smile]" Later adding, "When I found him, he was alone in a room staring at a television. It was off."[2][3]

It is reported that Wilson interrupted the first vocal session for the album by asking Parks, "Wait a minute. What am I even doing here?" Parks hit the talk button and responded, "You’re here because I can’t stand the sound of my own voice!" Wilson paused, nodded his head, and stepped up to the microphone proclaiming, "Well that makes sense! okay, take one!"[4]

Though billed and anticipated as a full collaboration, the album is devoted to Parks' compositions, and features his typical dense wordplay and orchestrations. Wilson for his part contributes only the vocals and vocal arrangements. Parks also reported that despite his invitation, Wilson had declined to contribute any music to the project. Despite this, he was impassioned to record the album for Parks, determined to make something that he "could live with" ten years from then.[3]


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [5]
Christgau's Consumer Guide [6]
Entertainment WeeklyA–[7]
Orlando Sentinel     [9]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [10]

Given the history of its artists, the album came with high expectations, but upon release it received mixed critical reviews and had lackluster sales, failing even to chart. Stephen Thomas Erlewine for AllMusic wrote, "Van Dyke Parks' approach is intellectual, not instinctual, which means his compositions are over-labored and overwrought. Instead of making his melodies catchy, Parks makes sure they are complex, which means they are rarely memorable. Similarly, his lyrics are dense and laden with poetic imagery and metaphors, yet they are entirely too cerebral for a pop album. Then again, Orange Crate Art isn't a pop album -- it's a self-conscious work of art."[5]

Parks has repeatedly stated his disappointment with the album's reception, saying "It took three years and $350,000. The record came out and sank without a trace."[2]

Track listingEdit

All tracks are written by Van Dyke Parks, except where noted.

1."Orange Crate Art" 3:00
2."Sail Away" 5:15
3."My Hobo Heart"lyrics: Michael Hazelwood3:16
4."Wings of a Dove" 3:07
5."Palm Tree and Moon" 4:07
6."Summer in Monterey"lyrics: Michael Hazelwood4:14
7."San Francisco" 4:28
8."Hold Back Time" 3:39
9."My Jeanine" 3:13
10."Movies Is Magic" 3:54
11."This Town Goes Down at Sunset"Michael Hazelwood3:21
12."Lullaby"George Gershwin6:06


Additional musicians
  • Britt Bacon – engineer
  • Johnny Britt – background vocals
  • Dennis Budimir – guitar, mandolin
  • Chilli Charles – drums, percussion
  • Ken Deranteriasian – engineer
  • Bernie Dresel – drums, percussion
  • Bruce Dukov – concertmaster
  • Grant Geissman – guitar, mandolin
  • Clark Germain – engineer
  • Donny Gerrard – background vocals
  • Richard Greene – violin
  • Robert Greenidge – steel drums
  • Danny Hutton – background vocals
  • Ira Ingber – guitar, mandolin
  • David Joyce – background vocals
  • Doug Lacy – background vocals
  • Arnold McCuller – background vocals
  • Murray McFadden – engineer
  • David McKelvy – harmonica
  • Tommy Morgan – harmonica
  • Sid Page – concertmaster
  • Terrence Schonig – hammer dulcimer
  • Carl Sealove – bass guitar
  • Leland Sklar – bass guitar
  • Brian Soucy – engineer
  • Fred Tackett – guitar, mandolin
  • Carmen Twillie – background vocals
  • Andy Waterman – engineer
  • Monalisa Young – background vocals
  • Michael Frondelli – mixing


  1. ^ "Van Dyke Parks 'Orange Crate Art'". The California Report. December 2010. Retrieved 16 August 2013.
  2. ^ a b The Guardian, Thursday 9 May 2013 "Van Dyke Parks: 'I was victimised by Brian Wilson's buffoonery'" by Dorian Lynskey
  3. ^ a b Barney Hoskyns, Rock's Backpages Audio, 16 June 1993
  4. ^ Carlin, Peter Ames (2007). Catch a wave : the rise, fall & redemption of the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson. Emmaus, Pa.: Rodale. ISBN 1594867496.
  5. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Van Dyke Parks / Brian Wilson: Orange Crate Art". AllMusic. Retrieved 2018-10-21.
  6. ^ Christgau, Robert (2000-10-15). "Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks". Christgau's Consumer Guide: Albums of the '90s. Macmillan Publishing. ISBN 9780312245603.
  7. ^ Woodard, Josef (1995-12-01). "Orange Crate Art". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2018-10-21.
  8. ^ Graff, Gary; Durchholz, Daniel (eds) (1999). MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide. Farmington Hills, MI: Visible Ink Press. p. 1233. ISBN 1-57859-061-2.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  9. ^ Gettelman, Parry (1996-01-05). "Van Dyke Parks Brian Wilson". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2018-10-21.
  10. ^ Brackett, Nathan; with Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). New York, NY: Fireside/Simon & Schuster. p. 880. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.

External linksEdit