Having lived through the Great Singer-Songwriter Scare of the early 1970s, I had mixed feelings before I saw the documentary Troubadours. Carole King, James Taylor and Jackson Browne are, at their best, among the finest pop songwriters of the 20th century, but laid-back Me Generation odes can leave one longing for the guitar carnage of Pete Townshend or John Belushi. And yet director Morgan Neville and producer Eddie Schmidt are smart, and by the time the chronology reaches Eagles (there's no "the," an amused Steve Martin informs us), they nail the twee factor. Rock critic dean Bob Christgau calls the Hotel Californians on their "Take It Easy" jive with a blast of New York contrarianism. Still, "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," "Fire and Rain" and "These Days" stand as terrific tunes, and the era and film has a sweetness and intelligence that shames the crass and cruel culture of the last few decades. After the screening, Neville, songwriter J.D. Souther, shutterbug Henry Diltz and special guests will discuss the time when, as one participant puts it, "The bedroom was Laurel Canyon, the living room was the Troubadour and marijuana was the church."
Wed., March 30, 7:30 p.m., 2011