"So you want to be a rock and roll star?
Then listen now to what I say
Just get an electric guitar
Then take some time and learn how to play"
The Byrds. Buffalo Springfield. The Mamas and the Papas. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Joni Mitchell. The first wave. The originals.
Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, Eagles, Little Feat, Bonnie Raitt. The second wave. The new kids in town.
If you're a baby boomer and a music lover, these are a few of the bands you fell in love with. After The Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the rest of the British Invasion came the singer-songwriter era. The above artists started it all. Besides the music, they shared another commonality. They all moved out to southern California and settled in Laurel Canyon. It was there that a group of young and ambitious musicians could hang out together, listen to each other's music and support each other in their dream to become rock heroes.
The new two-part documentary "Laurel Canyon" tells the stories of that era. The problem is no new ground is covered.
The Byrds meeting for the first time at the Troubadour....heard it!
Stephen Stills and Richie Furay running into Neil Young on Sunset Blvd to form Buffalo Springfield...heard it!
Mama Cass inviting Graham Nash to her home to meet Crosby & Stills which then formed CS&N...heard it!
Crosby "discovering" Joni Mitchell...heard it!
We've heard all of them and more...many, many times before. The film just rehashes them.
The new kids...the new wave comes to L.A. to join their idols....heard it!
Linda Ronstadt hires Glenn Frey and Don Henley as part of her band...heard it!
Frey & Henley break off to start their own band, The Eagles...heard it!
Jackson Browne starts to write "Take It Easy" and gives it to Glenn Frey to finish the song....heard it!
Yada...yada...yada! Yeah, they are great stories. Yeah, they tell us the history of that era. Yeah, I loved hearing them the first fifty or so times, but eventually they get old. They become stale!
Don't get me wrong, the film wasn't a total waste of time. You did get to spend a couple of hours listening to the music you probably still love. There also was a lot of new visuals....that's always cool. There are new interviews with the players...although they don't explore anything new. Nothing wrong with any of those things. I could think of worse ways to spend my time.
We seem to be in a new era of rock music documentaries. A few of them have broken new ground and were excellent. This one had all the ingredients to do that and it missed. That's what made "Laurel Canyon" a disappointment.
The price you paid for your riches and fame
Was it all a strange game? You're a little insane.
The money, the fame and the public acclaim
Don't forget who you are. You're a rock and roll star.
*Song lyrics to "So You Want To Be A Rock'n'Roll Star", by The Byrds
Related Post: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young: Five decades of fighting
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