Echo in the Canyon
directed by Andrew Slater
starring Jakob Dylan, David Crosby, Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr
Every so often things converge and make a perfect little capsule of time and space. A good example might be Laurel Canyon, up above LA in the mid 1960’s. Folk music drifted out west and merged with a nascent LA music scene based in Hollywood and environs. This is when Rock and roll grew up, shook off the producer-based model that dominated the 1950’s and Turned out a vast body of what we now consider classic rock. High concept poetry became the lyrics, replacing the “ooh, ooh, he’s so cute” lyrics of the earlier days. British bands including the Beatles flocked over. LA had more recording studios than all of the UK, and here the artists made the creative decisions while and the engineers just got the levels right. And enough of these old timers remain to give a good sense of what that magic era felt like.
Our guide through Laurel Canyon is Jakob Dylan, son of the more famous Bob. He interviews the artists from Eric Clapton to David Crosby to Michelle Phillips. They tell stories, sing a few songs and generally dish the dirt in generous yet well deconstructed dollops of nostalgia. Archival footage, tales of drug soaked excess and reminiscences of old recordings and live session bring back the magic. All this is framed in a Hollywood style and everything points to an eponymous concert for all the cool people with connections.
But the music is grand as is the story even if it focuses on the survivors and ignores many of the smaller bands that made the charts, but not years after year. Hopefully we all have some sort of moment in our lives as exciting gas this, and I highly recommend this film for both the classic rock enthusiast, and newer fans who might be interested in the back story of the punk, metal and progressive rock that came later. Folk rock ruled, and this movie is its court jester.