Echo in the Canyon
Jakob Dylan and his band create an echo in Laurel Canyon when they perform some of the major hits that were recorded there in the mid-60’s, e.g., the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, the Beach Boys, and the Mamas and the Papas. Also appearing in interviews and chats are Tom Petty, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Stephen Stills, David Crosby, Beck, and Neil Young. Andrew Slater filmed this documentary after he heard that his friend Jakob Dylan was going to record an album made up of songs of the period. Slater includes archival clips and pictures from the Laurel Canyon years, along with footage from the 2015 L. A. tribute concert.
It’s entertaining and interesting to hear the bands perform, to hear about the studios recording them, and the neighborliness of the musician residents who lived in the Canyon at the time, who even welcomed drop-in visitors and sat down for impromptu jam sessions on the spot. Byrds’ front man Roger Guinn who was a local resident, supplies many of the interesting descriptions in the film.
You also hear a bit of gossip (for instance, about David Crosby, some of which he owns up to, along with the reasons he was asked to leave the Byrds) and a lot of reminiscing about the good vibes and easy lifestyles of the time. Of most interest is hearing how much the groups borrowed or got inspiration from one another’s songs. Many were inspired by Brian Wilson’s “Pet Sounds”, including the Beatles. The “Sargeant Pepper” album was apparently one of the cross-pollinations.
Jakob Dylan’s pieces are smoothly interspersed in the other musicians’ performances, and he conducts some thought-provoking interviews. Curiously, he often has an almost blank expression on his face and shows little response during the conversations, but presumably he is making an effort not to detract from the main focus of the scenes. After learning that he is Bob Dylan’s son, I found myself studying his looks and demeanor to find resemblances between the two, which was my own distraction. (Similarities are there, but not pronounced.)
Overall, this is an entertaining, reminiscent look at the captivating music of the time.
Something to enjoy if you like mid-60’s music.