"Echo in the Canyon" Movie Review

 

Echo In The Canyon celebrates the explosion of popular music that came out of LA’s Laurel Canyon in the mid-60s as folk went electric and The Byrds, The Beach Boys, Buffalo Springfield and The Mamas and the Papas gave birth to the California Sound.  It was a moment (1965 to 1967) when bands came to LA to emulate The Beatles and Laurel Canyon emerged as a hotbed of creativity and collaboration for a new generation of musicians who would soon put an indelible stamp on the history of American popular music.

Featuring Jakob Dylan, the film explores the beginnings of the Laurel Canyon music scene.  Dylan uncovers never-before-heard personal details behind the bands and their songs and how that music continues to inspire today.  Echo in the Canyon contains candid conversations and performances with Brian Wilson, Ringo Starr, Michelle Phillips, Eric Clapton, Stephen Stills, David Crosby, Graham Nash, Roger McGuinn and Jackson Browne as well as contemporary musicians they influenced such as Tom Petty (in his very last film interview), Beck, Fiona Apple, Cat Power, Regina Spektor and Norah Jones.

I went and saw the movie at the Angelika Theater and here's what I thought:

The Good

If you are a fan of 1965-67 L.A. created or inspired by music, this is an amazing trip down a musical memory lane. The interviews (conducted by Jacob Dylan), are brilliant, and the stories connecting songs and sounds created in and around Laurel Canyon and how they inspired and changed popular music are incredible spot on.

The best interviews are of Ringo Starr, the late Tom Petty, and Roger MGuinn and David Crosby...all great musicians and story tellers.

The studio and concert performances with Jacob, Fionna Apple, Cat Power, and Beck are good...but they are made great when intercut with the original versions.

The Bad

Jacob Dylan was executive producer and star, so I why he'd want to be the centerpiece to the movie, but there is too much Jacob and his live show and not enough of the history.

Also, the story told seems to want to imply that the Laurel Canyon scene either ended or became less relevant after 19967-68 when bands like the Byrds and Buffalo Springfield broke up. This shortchanges the great music to come out of that scene later on, which include Jackson Brown, Linda Ronstadt, CSN&Y and so much more.

The Recommendation

See the movie. During 1965-1968 the music that came out of the Laurel Canyon scene change the nature of music from silly pop love songs to important political, social, and historic music that stands the test of time even today.

Dwight Arnold

Dwight Arnold

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