Thursday, June 9, 2011

Music: The New Laurel Canyon

Joni Mitchell, David Crosby and Eric Clapton in Laurel Canyon, circa 1969

I've been listening to Dawes' new album Nothing is Wrong non-stop.  The Los Angeles-based band crafts soulful Americana songs that are reminiscent of the Laurel Canyon sounds of the late 60s and 70s.  One song even features Jackson Browne on harmonies.

I'm a fan of that particular era of rock, and the Laurel Canyon crowd (Jackson, Joni, Carole King, CSN&Y, the Mamas & the Papas, the Eagles, Frank Zappa, Gram Parsons, the Byrds, etc.).  The Canyon was the epicenter of the rock music scene of the late 60s, located in the heart of the Hollywood Hills.  Even German chanteuse and Velvet Underground collaborator Nico managed to find her way there.  Fun facts: Graham Nash wrote "Our House" about the home he shared with Joni Mitchell.  The Mamas & the Papas song "Twelve Thirty" was inspired by the Canyon ("Young girls are coming to the canyon / and in the mornings I can see them walkin' / I can no longer keep my blinds drawn").

Michael Walker, who wrote the book Laurel Canyon: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll's Legendary Neighborhood, explained to NPR his theory of why so many good musicians seemed to end up in the Canyon:
"Musicians need to breathe the same air," he says. "And these were some of the best musicians of their generation, sort of by luck and happenstance jammed into this beautiful, leafy, little neighborhood." Source
There's a new generation that carries on the legacy, thanks to musician Jonathan Wilson, whose revival of Laurel Canyon jam sessions some time in 2006, draws in the likes of everyone from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to members of Pearl Jam and Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis -- providing the same sort of open, collaborative environment for musicians to freestyle.  Keyboardist and songwriter Barry Goldberg (of The Electric Flag), who lived in the area back in the day, said, "First time I went to Jonathan Wilson's house and walked through the beaded curtain, I almost had a flashback.  I started crying because of how proud I was of these kids for carrying it on with reverence and not just bullshit or jive."

Source: A lot of these wonderful photos came from the incomparable Henry Diltz

1 comment:

  1. Amazing post! I love Laurel Canyon too, wish I could go there some day it has to be a really inspiring place to live on.



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