Laurel Canyon: Part 1
September 14, 2023 7:56 PM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

2-part MGM+ docuseries about the famous LA mountain neighborhood where Joni Mitchell, Frank Zappa, the Byrds, Love, Crosby/Stills/Nash/Young, the Monkees, the Turtles and many more found cheap housing and creative community in the mid-late 60s. With Mama Cass’s generosity and openness as a central ingredient, Lauren Canyon - above the smog, but also only a few minutes’ drive from the clubs on Sunset Strip - produced an amazing amount of psychedelic folk and rock music. Part 1. 100% on RT.

Includes discussion of:

Joni Mitchell on two tabs of acid "seeing theoretical physics with my own eyes"
Joni blowing everyone away with her voice and guitar work (Clapton was stunned) at Mama Cass's house
The Monkees and the Mothers living next to each other and partying at Zappa's place
Members of Love talking about the racism they encountered trying to book tours as a biracial band, and about how their attempt to get Elektra to pay attention to the Doors backfired when Elektra focused all its energy on Morrison and company
Desire and adultery in the Mamas & the Papas
Brilliant music, egos and fights among The Byrds and Buffalo Springfield, Harrison Ford building nudist Peter Tork's music room, Mama Cass taking a very bored-with-the-Hollies Graham Nash to her house and introducing him to a very high David Crosby, Nash falling in love with Joni and listening to Crosby and Stills playing a song at Joni's house, then joining in on harmony and the three of them hearing their sound together for the first time, Neil Young refusing to be filmed with CSNY at the Monterey Pop Festival because he wanted to stay in the moment with the crowd...

Lots of great stuff in this documentary.
posted by mediareport (4 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I enjoyed it but felt it trailed off towards the end.
posted by billsaysthis at 7:58 PM on September 14

I loved this first 75 minutes so much. There was so much detail, with almost all the narration coming from interview clips from the musicians spanning the decades. The only new interviews are with two photographers who lived in Laurel Canyon and were intimately involved with the scene: Nurit Wilde and Henry Diltz. The rest is all excellent, often revelatory period stuff. The style really works to highlight the music and vibe of the time.

The sections about Joni Mitchell were wonderful, with fantastic story after fantastic story, like Crosby falling in love with her and producing her first record just so he could protect her songs from record company glop getting piled on. I came away with new respect for Mama Cass as loving cruise director, had my long-cooled appreciation for those early CSN records rekindled, and ached for the lost career of Arthur Lee and Love.

I'd heard the story behind Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth" ages ago, but hearing it here from Stephen Stills, who wrote the song hours after seeing teenagers violently hauled off to jail on Sunset Strip for protesting a ridiculous 10pm curfew, felt very fresh.

Highly recommended!

I enjoyed it but felt it trailed off towards the end.

billsaysthis, if what you mean is that part 2 didn't hold your interest as much as this part, I completely agree, though there was a lot of great stuff in the 2nd part, too.
posted by mediareport at 8:26 PM on September 14 [1 favorite]

Detailed, thorough review with lots of neat bits from the LA Times:

The most comprehensive and musically satisfying document of a notably insular scene, the limited series combines sublime performance footage, home movies, artist interviews, choice music and a host of images by two photographers present at the time, Nurit Wilde and Henry Diltz, to tell a vivid story of a period that took place roughly from 1966 to 1972.

Corrected RT link.
posted by mediareport at 8:33 PM on September 14

I love this documentary, and have it on 'keep' on my Sky box to watch when I feel nostalgic for my long-gone youth.

As a slight derail, for anyone who loves that era/genre of music, there's a great internet station, Left Coast 70s, on Soma FM, and which is ad-free and DJ-yak-free.
posted by essexjan at 3:44 AM on September 15 [2 favorites]

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