Photos: Canyon Country Store

I had the honor of visiting the Canyon Country Store on Laurel Canyon Boulevard in Los Angeles last week. We saw and experienced some amazing things during our trip to the left coast, but I honestly would have been happy to just go hang around the Canyon Country Store, and Laurel Canyon in general, for a few days.

The importance of the physical location of Laurel Canyon, including the Canyon Country Store, on American recorded music cannot be overstated.

From Michael Walker’s fabulous book, Laurel Canyon: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll’s Legendary Neighborhood,

Glenn Frey, then a callow folkie fresh from Michigan, later said that when he happened to glimpse David Crosby sitting on the steps of the store, he knew he had made the right decision to come to L.A. “The Country Store was like the lobby of the Laurel Canyon hotel, and therefore was a fabulous f*cking place,” says Michael Des Barres. “The residents of this crumbling establishment would gather for their milk and cookies. We used to go there at all hours of the day and night. It was lovely, just catching up with the dealers.”


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City of Angels; late 1960s – early 1970s

If given a temporary time travel option, you would find me in Los Angeles’ Laurel Canyon of the late 1960s and early 1970s. I realize there are myriad amazing locations in rock and roll history: Greenwich Village, Memphis, Harlem, New Orleans, The Mississippi Delta, Haight-Ashbury, Liverpool, London – but I would be rocking it in L.A.

One of my favorite books is by an author called Michael Walker. He wrote, Laurel Canyon: The Inside Story of Rock And Roll’s Legendary Neighborhood. If you have a remote interest in this topic, this book is for you. The following are a few quotes from various parts of the book. For more effect, listen to The Eagles’ “Peaceful Easy Feeling” in the background as you read.

“It was the custom in those fading days of the ’60s for the canyon’s freaks to gather across from the Canyon Store on a triangular concrete traffic island formed by the intersection of Kirkwood Drive and Laurel Canyone Boulevard.”

“There wasn’t a star thing going on even with the stars.” – Graham Nash

“Jim Pons of the Leaves was right next door to me. Down the street was Joni Mitchell, Frank Zappa. As you went up Lookout, you had Paul Williams, Joe Schermie of Three Dog Night, John Mayall. Robby Krieger and his wife were very good friends; Danny Hutton of Three Dog Night was probably our closest friend – he was best man at my first wedding. Henry [Diltz] lived right across the street. I remember several nights that Joni Mitchell held a kind of court at her house with many of the young writers that were coming through – Jackson Browne, J.D. Souther – a plethora of songwriters passing the guitar around and singing the things they were working on.” – Mark Volman of The Turtles

“L.A. in the late 1960s represented one of those periodic cracks in the pop-cultural fortress when frustrated geniuses from the hinterland are not only tolerated but welcomed.”

“Laurel Canyon is a consciousness, rather than a physical place,” Michael Des Barres, the British singer and actor who lived in the canyon in the 1970s, told me [Michael Walker]. “Like the Chateau Marmont or Carnaby Street, [it] transcends geographics.”

It wasn’t perfect, but music scene-speaking, I’m pretty sure it was.

Clore Chronicles: Books, Questions & 2010

“It’s important to keep going back, and not lose track of the pioneers.”   – Paul Shaffer

That quote encapsulates the sentiment behind this blog, Clore Chronicles. At the urging of a good friend and trusted colleague, I started this labor of love back in March of this year (2009), and I’m so glad I did.

As we wind down 2009, I thought it a good time to refresh/refocus a bit, and I wanted to seek some input from those of you who stop by.

BOOKS: Below*, I list out books I’ve recently read, am reading, and am about to read. By sharing this list, I hope to encourage you to check out some of the same material. But moreso, I hope to hear from you with books you’ve been reading that you think would fit with the type of material covered here.

QUESTIONS: Clore Chronicles is me talking (a lot), but I would genuinely love to hear from you. By the way, a HUGE thank you to those who do read, and to those who leave comments. Here are a few questions I would love to hear from you on:

  • What era of music history are you most interested in?
  • What specific aspects of music history/sociology intrigue you most? (examples: personal impact of being famous, or how drugs play a role in the creation of music)
  • How does your knowledge of history impact the decisions you make in your day to day work decisions?

2010: In the new year, I plan to do a lot more interviews with interesting figures in the music world. Also, look for more “series” types of posts, with multi parts, or more continuous threads, running throughout multiple posts. I also plan to begin studying more about popular music history prior to the 1960s.

*BOOK LIST

Books I’ve read in the last year or so:

Appetite For Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age – Steve Knopper

It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll: My On the Road Adventures with The Rolling Stones – Chet Flippo

Laurel Canyon: The Inside Story of Rock & Roll’s Legendary Neighborhood – Michael Walker

The Mammoth Book of Sex, Drugs & Rock ‘N’ Roll – Edited by Jim Driver

Billy Joel – Mark Bego

Billy Joel: The Life & Times of An Angry Young Man – Hank Bordowitz

The Man Called Cash: The Life, Love & Faith of an American Legend – Steve Turner

Book I’m currently reading:

The Road To Woodstock – Michael Lang

Books in the queue:

The Great American Symphony: Music, Depression & The War – Nicholas Tawa

Air Castle of the South: WSM And The Making of Music City – Craig Havighurst

The Year the Music Died: 1964-1972; A commentary on the best era of pop music, and an irreverent look at the musicians and social movements of the time – Dwight Rounds

The Colonel: The Extraordinary Story of Colonel Tom Parker & Elvis Presley – Alanna Nash

Canyon of Dreams: The Magic & The Music of Laurel Canyon – Harvey Kubernik

Totally Awesome 80s – Matthew Rettenmund

Your Generation’s Mark

I’m not trying to cause a big sensation, I’m just talkin’ bout my generation    

– The Who

What will your generation be remembered for?

It isn’t always one event, or even many events, but also many actions, inactions, reactions and ideas. And don’t forget, all of those are compounded on every mark stamped by prior generations. There’s a huge process in play, we are simply trying to leave our mark. 

What will your’s be?

From Michael Walker’s book, Laurel Canyon: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll’s Legendary Neighborhood,

“A constant refrain, invariably posed by smug boomers, asks when the new generation will create ‘their Beatles.’ The answers are: never, and, they already have. Marshall McLuhan’s prophecy in the ’60s was right: the medium and the media have reached parity. The Web is Generation Y’s Beatlemania.”

Don’t forget to factor in the ever-changing face of media in your thinking on this question.

There will never be another Beatles. And that’s not a bow-down-to-the-Beatles sentiment.

Things have changed.

Manson, 40 Years Later

Saturday, August 8, 2009 marks the 40th anniversary of Charles Manson’s horrific night in LA’s Benedict Canyon. A few months back I published a 3-part series on Charles Manson. In case you missed it, here are the stories:

Charles Manson – Part 1 (originally published April 8, 2009)

Charles Manson – Part 2 (originally published April 15, 2009)

Charles Manson – Part 3 (originally published May 5, 2009)

Charles Manson – Part 3

From my April 8, 2009 post, Charles Manson – Part 1:

“Manson played a huge role in bringing the peace and love of the 1960s to a horrendous end. On the night of August 8, 1969, Manson sent his “Family” to Cielo Drive in Benedict Canyon (LA) to commit multiple murders. By August 10, there were 7 people dead.”

In looking back over history, one of the main objectives is to look for touchpoint moments, determine why they happened, and analyze the effects.

Why Manson helped orchestrate this? Dear God, who really knows? Sure, we can point to the fact that he had a messy past and his mind had seriously gone off the deep-end. But I’m not sure this world can effectively construct a satisfactory answer.

The effects have left scars so deep that full-healing will likely never occur. There was an actual sense of trusting-your-neighbors that existed before this touchpoint. Even if future generations don’t know Manson’s name, they will live the effects of the paranoia he helped create.

In the book Laurel Canyon: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll’s Legendary Neighborhood, the evidence is clear.

“The effect of the Manson murders on the canyon was profound. ‘That’s when it really started to turn weird,’ says Graham Nash (of The Hollies and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young). ‘Because up until then everybody’s door was open, nobody gave a sh*t – y’know, come on in, what the f*ck – and then all of a sudden it was like; I gotta lock my car. I gotta lock my door. It was the beginning of the end, I think.’ ‘Once people found out that hippies were killing people, it was a whole different thing,’ says Paul Body, a musician and doorman at the Troubadour. ‘It was really scary suddenly,’ says Sally Stevens, an L.A. record executive who lived on Lookout Mountain at the time.”

As I learn more about Manson I’m amazed that this guy had so much effect on not only the music industry, but an entire nation. The innocence of the Hippie Generation was not entirely brought to its knees by Manson, but he surely tolled the death knell.

From Laurel Canyon,

“During his incarceration [at Terminal Island prison in San Pedro, south of L.A., where he served seven years of a ten-year sentence for cashing a stolen check; paroled in 1967] Manson had becomed obsessed with the Beatles and taught himself to play the guitar and write songs. After hitting the bricks at Terminal Island, he insinuated himself into the Haight-Ashbury scene in San Francisco, where he looked like just another guitar-toting, songwriting freak.”

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