Full confession: I do have an obsession with some of the seventies So Cal music. What can I say? I grew up with it. So Linda Ronstadt, Fleetwood Mac and, later, Warren Zevon have been on the soundtrack for some time. And the elegantly wasted Laurel Canyon vibe was more attractive to my sensibilities than the hardcore bohemian SF freakout.
That said, these books – while catnip to the enthusiast (my hand up) – are not very good. “Hotel California” is the more focused of the two – late sixties to late seventies – but it regards the Eagles as the flourishing of that scene, which is only true in a commercial sense. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
But there is a limit to how many times one wants to read about how much pot David Crosby smoked, how much of a jerk Stephen Stills was and….. well you get it.
“Canyon of Dreams” is loaded up with pictures and illustrations – which are wonderful to page through – but the writing is awful, sadly. Not so much awful as pointless – anecdotes that go nowhere and guilty of the self-indulgence that brought down the whole scene. Inevitable though that was.
For the record “Canyon of Dreams” goes way back to the Bobby Womack, Jackie Deshannon era and all the way up to Rick Rubin and Slash. This helps to complete the picture – and forces the reader to contemplate the similarities.
After all, the LA Mellow Mafia helped to bring country style music to the Top 40 pop playlist and for that we should be eternally grateful. So for the fan I say get ‘em. For the reader looking for insight – it is not to be found in these books.