Best Songs To Represent Artists Associated With Laurel Canyon
Some of these are great hits, and some are just great songs.
A singer named Dylan was in the news last week, which would be expected on May 24. Only, in this case it was not Bob Dylan, who was turning seventy eight on that day, rather it was his oldest son.
Jakob Dylan has helped create and promote the new documentary Echo In The (Laurel) Canyon, the community where in the late Sixties folk music married rock and roll. The film discusses the important role the California town played in the blending of the two genres, a fusion made popular by artists such as the Byrds, the Eagles, and Crosby, Stills and Nash.
The suburb outside of Los Angeles was the home of many musical artists in the late Sixties, the most famous of which at the time was Frank Zappa. Most of the others were relatively unknown, but not long after Zappa left the area they would all go on the enjoy successful careers.
Some of them preferred rock, while others favored the folk movement spawned by the likes of Peter, Paul and Mary or the Kingston Trio or earlier Dylan. When the artists began hanging out, however, what resulted was a delightful collaboration between the two music forms.
The younger Dylan in the documentary pays tribute to the artists and bands who created that sound, getting first hand input from some who were there. Appearing in the film are legends such as Brian Wilson, Ringo Starr, Stephen Stills, Roger McGuinn, Michelle Phillips and David Crosby.
Also contributing are more current artists who, while too young to have experienced the scene, have certainly been influenced by it. Among these modern stars are Beck, Fiona Apple, Norah Jones, Regina Spektor, and Cat Power.
Some of these popular artists will be contributing cover versions of songs born from the musical unions of Laurel Canyon, so the soundtrack promises to make quite a sensation. Here are fifteen of the Laurel Canyon artists and their songs that I would consider to make a treasured play list.
1. Dan Fogelberg with Part of the Plan
The Illinois native migrated to the canyon and recorded this hot with the rest of the Souvenirs album, years before his commercial breakthrough Phoenix.
2. Buffalo Springfield with For What It's Worth
"Everybody look what's going down" Stephen Stills demands in the chorus of this enduring classic, which symbolized the counterculture protests of that era.
3. Peter Tork and Mickey Dolenz with Words
Two of the more radical of the made for TV musical quartet, Tork and Dolenz complemented each other on their shared vocals on this hit.
4. The Byrds with Hey Mr. Spaceman
Roger McGuinn and his band really cashed in by converting Bob Dylan to rock but, like this track demonstrates, they created some gems of their own.
5. The Eagles with My Man
Bernie Leadon's country ties defined the early sound of the group, and this track from On The Border pays homage to one of the founders of country rock, Gram Parsons.
6. The Mamas and the Papas with Twelve Thirty (Young Girls Are Coming To the Canyon)
John Phillips wrote this song about his experiences in Laurel Canyon, making it a perfect fit for the documentary.
7. Joni Mitchell with Ladies of the Canyon
The title place in the title song is none other than Laurel, where Mitchell was the most recognized female artist.
8. Crosby, Stills and Nash with Our House
Graham Nash wrote this sweet ballad about the home he shared, which rested in the heart of Laurel Canyon.
9. Canned Heat with Going Up the Country
Probably the best name for any of the bands of the area, on this hit this hot act proved it can create a great mix of folk and rock.
10. Neil Young with Revolution Blues
On The Beach is the album on which is found this underrated track, which literally mentions Laurel Canyon.
11. Carole King with You've Got a Friend
It was here that the famous songwriter gave James Taylor this huge future hit, inspired by the latter's grief in "Fire and Rain."
12. Warren Zevon with Poor Poor Pitiful Me
Before Excitable Boy made Zevon a household name, he hung out at the Canyon and offered Linda Rondstadt this track that would become a huge hit for her.
13. Jackson Browne with The Road and the Sky
This title track showed that Browne could perform his own songs, as well as penning hits such as "Take It Easy" and "Already Gone" for the Eagles.
14. Linda Rondstadt and the Stone Ponies with Different Drum
Before going on to a huge solo career, Rondstadt enjoyed critical success with this tune written from fellow Canyon comrade Michael Nesmith.
15. J. D. Souther with Kite Woman
Bigger hits became known because of the Eagles but, as this classic clearly proves, Souther could hold his own as a solo artist.