Yesterday this book dropped down from the heavens and landed with a smack on West Coast Sound's mahogany desk, this heavy, dense object with the heft of a law school text: Canyon of Dreams: The Magic and Music of Laurel Canyon.
It arrived unbidden, and within moments we were knee deep in Laurel Canyon, 1971, tripping our asses off, staring at the burning embers of a fire while some longhair guitarist tossed off a Donovan riff and talked about metaphysical stuff.
Canyon of Dreams was written by longtime LA music historian and writer Harvey Kubernik, and tackles the vast history of Laurel Canyon, from the earliest efforts to carve a community into the hills, to the birth of the jazz age, through the 50s-era cocktail era, the surf scene and, of course, the doped-up hippie years that birthed the country rock movement.
The book is as much a photo book as a prose book; each page is lavishly illustrated with gorgeous shots of a long-gone Los Angeles. Postcards sit next to cocktail lounge matchbooks, fliers, tickets, handbills, newspaper ads — evidence of not only another time, but another mindset.
And then there are the photographs, which capture Laurel musicians at their most charismatic. The usual suspects, yes: Linda Ronstadt, Jim Morrison, David Crosby, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young. But also the lesser knowns or non-sequiturs: the Firesign Theatre rehearsing; a striking young Barbara Hershey; Nirut Wilde looking beautiful; Miles Davis talking to some whitey; Bianca Jagger (with Rodney Bingenheimer).
Kubernik's book, which comes out on October 6, features a forward by (who else?) Ray Manzarek, and an afterward by Lou Adler. Among other exclusives, according to the press info:
“For the first time in years, the three surviving Doors talk about performances, recordings, band dynamics, and, of course, Jim Morrison.” (We'd quibble with the “first time in years” part, though; in our experience you can't get most of those guys to stop talking about the Doors.
“Randy Meisner reminisces about the Eagles first gig and the recording of 'One of These Nights.'”
“Graham Nash reflects on life with Joni Mitchell and describes writing 'Our House'.”
“Lou Adler discusses his legendary Sunset Strip venues — the Whisky a Go-Go, Roxy Theater, Rainbow Bar & Grill, and Tapestry — and, with Michele Phillips, reflects on the Monterey Pop Festival.
“Slash, a child of the Canyon, details the formation of Guns N' Roses.”