Bob Yodels Up the Canyon Part Five – The Review

Looking back, the musical and lifestyle Centre of the Universe that came into being in the mid ’60s wasn’t heralded by an anthem grown and harvested locally.  It was heralded by an edited 10 page-long poem written by a boy from Wisconsin, and set to music played by young and mostly forgotten studio musicians and recorded in New York.

In August of 1965 THIS is the song that Echoed in the Canyon from Sunset Strip to the San Fernando Valley. This is the song that fueled the moment.

It couldn’t be more ironic ….

The Story of “Like a Rolling Stone” – Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Like_a_Rolling_Stone

=0=

54 years later, Dylan’s son, Jakob, spearheads a documentary about the fabled Laurel Canyon, in which, according to Echo In the Canyon,  a few people changed the course of popular music, and lived in a vacuum high (see what I did there?) above the smoggy trench of the L.A. Basin. The reason given as to why this rag tag clump of genius’s chose to live there, is that Laurel was situated directly above Hollywood, where the Record Industry lived, and the proximity assured they would all go on to become the musical icons they are still regarded as today.

Even with its sprinkling of some of those who actually lived in Laurel during this renaissance, and the professed respect afforded them and the area in question by this stalwart team of current B-List artists, writers, producers, and director of this pared-down child-like primer of a rich and storied time and place, was truncated and its subject skimmed over like a Cheap Trick record that keeps the melody and lyric, but ignores the passing chords, nuances, passion, and reverence. Echo In the Canyon replaces those essentials with brevity, volume, and a pace that is on one hand glacier slow, and on the other, dismissive and hurried, like they had to get home to do yoga and make sure the dog got fed.

=0=

August 1965 – A Saturday Night Somewhere Between Crescent Heights and Sierra Drive on Sunset Blvd.

The cars, mostly late model convertibles, are bumper to bumper along this stretch of Sunset known to all as The Sunset Strip. Within its confines lie the clubs, restaurants and bars that attract the kids from San Fernando Valley every weekend, most driving the family T-Bird (Til’ Daddy takes the T-Bird away), the rest driving whatever car they can, each car either filled to the brim with car-less friends, or pairs of boys or girls looking for pairs of girls or boys.

By some telepathic skill known only to teenagers and the odd 20-something, when the day’s most popular song comes on one of the three outstanding local AM radio stations (KHJ, KRLA, KFWB) within seconds first one, than two, than more tune to that station and within a minute, almost every car on the strip is playing the song as loud as they can turn up the car radio. Singing along. Smiling. Nodding in approval to the cars making their snail like trip in the opposite direction, the song unites them all. It speaks volumes of the time and the place. It defines a moment better than any historian or academe.

What did radio sound like on Sunset in 1965? It sounded EXACTLY like this …but by November, it would change a lot.

Music, it seems, is the glue that binds us all. The snapshots of our Lives.

…and on these warm Hollywood nights, the Pacific Ocean breezes cooling the air that had baked under the sun all day, wafts the music up the Hollywood Hills, up Laurel Canyon, and informs the denizens that it is time to come down from on high, time to join your fellows in Laurel Canyon’s front yard …Sunset, or a few blocks south of the Whisky to Santa Monica Blvd and the Troubadour. The Troub. Where most of the Canyonites mount the stage on Monday nights, when it is open to all, no booking, record deal, or hot shot manager or agent required. Just your music. A Guitar. And songs good enough to get you asked back.

The song that late Summer in 1965 was “Like a Rolling Stone”. And it was unique both in subject matter and length, and it spoke to the denizens of the Canyon because most were alone, with no direction home, like a complete unknown, and the Canyon would become their home, each other their family, and Sunset and Santa Monica, Melrose and La Brea, their swing sets, teeter totter, back yard, front yard, and playground.

Laurel Canyon was much more than an echo in a canyon.

Much more than what is on offer in this Cole’s Notes documentary.

It was a Home

No one was Alone

And for some, they would not remain Unknown for long.

=0=

Laurel Canyon and the Sunset Strip have always been connected at the wrists and ankles.

Long before David Crosby banged every waitress that ever spilled a drink at the Whisky, and decades before Jim Morrison got escorted out of Thee Experience after hurling racist epithets at a jamming onstage Jimi Hendrix,  Laurel Canyon was home to the famous and not so famous who embraced a Bohemian lifestyle and treasured the clean clear air, wooded streets and paths, and ridiculously low cost of rent or purchase. The actual history of Laurel and Sunset is much better served by two other clips, which you will find at the bottom of this column. One is the best documentary I have ever seen about the area, and the other is an almost hypnotic interview with a legendary broadcaster, mentor, confidant, and assistant to icons …and I will implore each and every one of you to give your time and utmost attention to both. If you really are interested in what Echo in the Canyon pretends to offer. they will satisfy your thirst for knowledge and imbue you with the feeling that you have, in some small way, experienced what those of us who were there at the time felt and experienced.

…but before I introduce you to those two informative clips, I owe you full disclosure as to why I cannot recommend or condone Echo in the Canyon.

I only wish that I could.

=0=

Good Intentions are Not Enough

The art for one of Echo in the Canyon’s posters, is ridiculously derivative of the artwork of Jack Davis, who passed away in 2016. In its own way, the faux Davis poster is a fitting statement on its subject.

I will give those involved in this sadly flatlined effort the benefit of the doubt and say that their hearts were in the right place when they all signed on for this project, but there is enough evidence to indicate either some of them may have been duped into joining up, or the entire effort is not an actual documentary, but something else entirely.

There is just enough of the cynic in me to believe this could be more than just a major lack of informed researchers and knowledgeable participants, or maybe just misguided editing, or committee decisions over-thinking the subject and keeping the content down to a minimal and narrow overview.

The evidence I mentioned a moment ago, that for all I know, may just be my own personal taste and curiosity working overtime, and making me a conspiracy theorist with Echo in the Canyon’s sinister side non-existent, my own ridiculous conclusion equal to those reached by the bat-shit crazy shut-ins that came up with Dead McCartney, Elvis is alive, ChemTrails, Hillary’s UnderAge SexSlave Pizza Parlour and Trumps ability to construct a high school level sentence let alone run a country.

In a way, I hope I am as wrong as they are. Certainly those of you happy with Echo in the Canyon will shrug off what I am saying, ignore the proof I offer, and go about your lives happy and satisfied that Laurel Canyon was 14 people and a 12 String Guitar.

I envy you.

=0=

Evidence First Then the Conclusion

The Performers

This is Jakob standing in front of his recently sold 7.2 Million dollar Malibu Compound

Jakob Dylan – Born in 1969. 50 years old. Grew up in Malibu but moved to Laurel when he was 19. In 1988. Judging from his Malibu home, I doubt he stayed in the Canyon long.

Beck – I recently stopped dismissing Beck and have come to like him, some of his music, and respect his artistic bent. Born and raised in the Bronx/Brooklyn/New York. Never a resident. Music driven by punk, performance art, rock, and grunge/alt.

Rebecca Spektor – Born in Moscow. Lives in New York. Travels like she is being chased by the law and is concerned with building her brand world wide. Punk/Alt. background.

Cat Power – Atlanta born and spends her time in the South. Her musical background is all over the road, my 2 favourites are Lo-Fi, and Sad Core.

Jade Costrinos – Was once in a band called Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes. That’s all I could find.

Norah Jones – A-Lister, daughter of Ravi. Appears in the doc for about 20 seconds dueting with Jakob Dylan, looking at him like she just discovered a dead body in his guitar case. Doesn’t show up for the live concert.

Fiona Apple – Born in New York City in 1977 and lived in New York spending Summers with her father in L.A.

The Live Band – Are these guys in the Wallflowers? Are they session guys? Anyone? Bueller?

Were Wilson Phillips and other talented progeny of the  ’60s icons unavailable for this? Because there is a canyon-wide difference in the talent and sound here and the talent and sound in the documentary.

There is no connective tissue between any of these artists and the times (non were born yet) or the music, or the place, except for Dylan, who was in Laurel starting in 1988, when Tommy Lee was boning the daughters of the waitresses Crosby boned in the ’60s.

The Director (and one of the Producers)

Slater and Dylan sitting on the stairs in the Castro Theatre in San Francisco looking like the two energetic fireballs we all know and love

Andrew Slater – Appears to be besties with Jakob Dylan. Slater signed Dylan’s band, the Wallfowers and they have worked together since. Slater also produced and signed some of the other performers including Fiona Apple. He was the president of Capitol Records for a few years a decade ago.

Nit Picking

The framing sequences of Dylan driving down Sunset in a 60s-70s convertible (sometimes in front of a blue screen with old footage showing  behind) is based on possibly the dullest movie I have ever seen called, “Model Shop” whose entire plot revolves around the lead actor driving around Hollywood in a dark green MG sportscar trying to borrow 100 dollars from his friends so he can make his rent.

I don’t get it either.

Michelle Philips Saying Brian Wilson’s living room was all sand. No. It wasn’t. Brian built a sandbox IN the living room big enough to put a grand piano in because he wanted to Have his toes in the sand for inspiration when he wrote.

I wonder if he and Marilyn had cats ….

I won’t kvetch about the musical performances, but the soundtrack CD has some duets with Stephen Still, Eric Clapton, and others, but none of the A-Listers join the principals onstage in the documentary. Hmmm ….

The principal performers sitting around talking about the music …kinda. Not learning the songs, not being buzzed about the music, not rolling a joint on an album cover, making the whole thing look staged and uncomfortable. There wasn’t a beer, bottle of jack, or bucket of chicken anywhere in sight. Who ARE these people?

All the People they Didn’t Talk To

Okay, now I’m being a dick …but talking to a few more people who were there would have lent a little much needed cred to this thing.

I was kind of offended by the inclusion of the sadly deceased Tom Petty, a friend of Jakob’s father, but a native and resident of Florida for most of his life and when he did move to L.A., he moved to Encino …a wealthy enclave in the San fernando Valley that backs up on Beverly Hills and Bel Air.

I was never a big Petty fan except for Breakdown and Rockin’ Around With You from the first LP, but I LOVED him as Lucky on King of the Hill.

https://www.newsweek.com/tom-petty-lucky-king-hill-676150

And Now …the Exciting Conclusion

BUT FIRST …

As promised, the best documentary I have ever seen about the era and places touched on in Echo in the Canyon, and if you read the credits, you’ll see the difference at a glance.

The quality of the video is just okay, but you can find this as a DVD BluRay or download easily.

Don’t bitch about the Portuguese subtitles …their hard wired but easily ignored …unless you can read them, in which case, win/win.

Here it is in its entirety.

And lastly, this wonderful interview with Eliot Mintz.

Some background …

Please read this. You will be rewarded for your thirst for knowledge.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elliot_Mintz

This man measures every word. You can watch him consider what he is going to say. His speech patterns and mellifluous voice are at once inviting and stand-offish. He draws his words out, giving weight and respect to each syllable, his grasp of the language, superb. His quest to say what he means and not colour his words is admirable and his knowledge of his subject(s) is as informed and entertaining as Brian Linehan’s were. A Metrosexual long before the term was coined, an urbane observer of the world, and the people around him, his recollections here make what’s shared in Echo in the Canyon pale and incomplete by comparison.

Some of you may be put off by what could be

mistaken as arrogance or aloofness, but do soldier on. It is neither. It is just a man confident in his memory and eloquent to a fault. Old school dude.

Enjoy.

There is still so much to share about the time and place.

Perhaps another time.

NOW …THE CONSPIRACY THEORY

Echo in the Canyon was made in conjunction with BMG.

BMG is a record label.

BMG either owns or licenses the performers in this documentary who played the live concert, and took part in the studio recordings, parts of which are included here.

BMG released a soundtrack album just before the documentary premiered.

Could BMGs involvement explain the use of these artists instead of young artists clearly better suited to the Canyon and the music?

Could BMGs financial contribution have coloured the direction and/or content of the documentary?

Is Echo in the Canyon something other than a documentary.

Is Echo in the Canyon the Documentary an Infomercial for Echo in the Canyon the Soundtrack?

It looks and feels like an infomercial for an album and DVD.

Is Echo in the Canyon just another infomercial for a George Foreman Grill, spray on hair, or Shamwow?

Ah, Hell …who cares.

=0=

Segarini’s regular column is craving a Pizza Man pizza, a Pink’s Chili Dog, and Michelle Phillips passing around a candy dish full of blow

dbawis-button7giphyBob “The Iceman” Segarini was in the bands The Family Tree, Roxy, The Wackers, The Dudes, and The Segarini Band and nominated for a Juno for production in 1978. He also hosted “Late Great Movies” on CITY TV, was a producer of Much Music, and an on-air personality on CHUM FM, Q107, SIRIUS Sat/Rad’s Iceberg 95, (now 85), and now publishes, edits, and writes for DBAWIS, continues to write music, make music, and record.

 

7 Responses to “Bob Yodels Up the Canyon Part Five – The Review”

  1. Frederick Harrison Says:

    According to this article the Wilsons did have cats – and they used the sandbox as a litter box. https://www.shortlist.com/news/how-brian-wilson-lost-his-mind-and-created-brilliance

    • Thanks, Frederick …I seem to remember Marilyn complaining about the sandbox, but couldn’t remember if it was because they had cats …or because Brian tracked sand all over the house.

  2. Having recently watched Echos, I left it feeling a little cheated. It wasn’t a documentary about Laurel Canyon in the 60s as it seemed to be billed. It was a documentary about a concert celebrating the music of the canyon with musicians I mostly don’t care about (and it didn’t change my mind about them).
    Oh well.

  3. Lynne Deragon Says:

    The upside is that Echo In The Canyon brought me to subscribe to your blog, which I enjoy thoroughly. Love all four parts. Your points are interesting, succinct, funny, but heartfelt. I like your writing voice. Thanks. I had thought I was alone in my negative response to the “film” .

  4. Jim Chisholm Says:

    After a bit of reflection, the title, “Echo … In the Canyon” does seem to refer to something followed and clearly came later than the real story of the canyon. I.E. the musicians who supposedly liked or were influenced by the music and story of the real Laurel Canyon. However, it’s clear that the echo(es) that appear in said documentary are less compelling than what we would hope for. I tried to like Young Dylan’s voice but it seems so disconnected. Time to listen to some Byrds now.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: