Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Last Book I Read

As a place where music "happened" Laurel Canyon really doesn't have the same cultural cache of Detroit or Memphis or even Cleveland. But Michael Walker does a good job of demonstrating how the vibe of the Canyon (which provides a somewhat bucolic, woodsy link between Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley) was a major factor in shaping Los Angeles rock from the Byrds to the Eagles, and involving the likes of such disparate figures as the Monkees, Joni Mitchell, Frank Zappa, and loads of others.  It's a compelling story with lots of colorful personalities, including not just musicians, but other artists, fans and even psychopaths (some of the Manson murders occurred in the Canyon).  I think the value in Walker's book is more in defining a mythology of the Canyon lifestyle than in really proving there's some kind of unified Laurel Canyon "sound" (which, it's important to note, the author never asserts anyway), which on close inspection would prove true in those other cities as well.  But it's a very entertaining read, and, after driving through the Canyon a few times myself (because I'd heard so much about it), I now have some understanding of what made it so special at least for awhile.               

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