“Echo In The Canyon” was a decent attempt at telling the story of Laurel Canyon’s history in the California Sound back in the day.
It did look like the director Andrew Slater and star/executive producer Jakob Dylan went shopping on a list of contacts from their Rolodexes.
This worked well for some of the contacts such as Dave Crosby, Graham Nash, Roger McGuinn, Michele Philips, but to bring up The Beatles and Ringo specifically was a stretch when Joni Mitchell, The Doors or LOVE’s Johnny Echols could have been introduced as they have a more solid standing in the history of Laurel Canyon. Singer Jackson Brown also made an appearance as well as Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys.
I spent a lot of time hanging around Laurel Canyon back in the day and walked it, hitch hiked it and hung out. I went to a lot of parties on the Canyon and, believe me, The Beatles and Ringo were not music figures that would translate into Laurel Canyon history for creating a large part of the California Sound. They were more like Laurel Canyon adjacent.
I have read that the main reason for leaving LOVE/Johnny Echols out of the film is because they were too obscure of a band to factor in as well as there were just too many stories to include them all. I’ll buy into the volume of info, but not the obscurity of LOVE/Johnny Echols. And what about Joni mitchell? She is a much bigger place holder in the sound of Laurel Canyon than Ringo is or was. Don’t get me wrong, I adore Ringo, but not as a creator of the Laurel Canyon/California Sound.
The Doors also played a huge role in the mystique of Laurel Canyon and I’ve heard many stories from neighbors telling me how the droaning of Ray Manzarik’s organ used to drive them crazy. The Doors’ frontman Jim Morrison had a home by the Country Store whose street was renamed “Love Street” in 2018 at The Love Fest, which is held annually on Laurel Canyon. This was no small feat to accomplish and would have taken an action by the Los Angeles City Council which would involve a great deal of effort. For those of you that don’t know, “Love Street” is a song that The Doors made famous. There’s a line out of “Love Street” that goes “ I see you live on Love Street. There’s this store where creatures meet. I wonder what they do in there.” The store refers to the Country Store.
Granted, it was nice to hear the songs from back in the day performed by talent from Andrew Slater’s client list and see David Crosby being interviewed and being very candid about his relationship with his former band mates. To me, it seemed like he was trying to make amends for his horrible behavior of the past, forge a new artistic/creative bond, and leave the door open for a reunion of some sort. Wouldn’t it be cool if that could be done right here in the San Fernando Valley?
Up until July 3, I had not seen David Crosby live since we filmed “The Big T.N.T Show” in 1965. This segment would be edited as a Byrds video and would find its way to the UK where people saw me and let me know what music producer Phil Spector had done. I was also on the back cover of “The Big T.N.T. Show” video case. My full screen appearance comes toward the end of “Mr. Tambourine Man.”
It was great to see Crosby live for the first time in 54 years and he sounded fantastic. He was partnered with famous axman Waddy Wachtel, notably from the Expensive Winos and Stevie Nicks.
Aside from the concert that was also titled “Echo In The Canyon” there wasn’t really any music. I will not mention the names of those performers in protest for leaving out so much of Laurel Canyons’ famous faces.
Jakob Dylan is the son of Folk-Rock singer and composer Bob Dylan who does have a past with Ringo. Jakob Dylan’s performances and interviewing skills were acceptable and I did enjoy them.
Getting back to who was left out of the film’s perview, artist manager Elliot Roberts, who ran Lookout Mgt., and whose first client was Joni Mitchell and as a manager spoke to Neil Young daily, guiding his career through good and bad. In addition, working with David Geffen, a record deal was secured for Crosby, Stills and Nash. Stephen Stills described Roberts as the kindest, gentlest and funniest and Crosby described Roberts being “A cat like us.” In addition, he managed Bob Dylan and Tom Petty. So why no mention of this guy who helped forge careers for much of the California Sound?
Instead, we get a lot of Jakob Dylan chatting with other talent from the concert talking about the music with stacks of vinyl LPs and inserts of the final product…a concert at the Charleston Music Hall marketed as “Echo In The Canyon.” The thing wasn’t even filmed or performed in L.A. let alone anywhere near Laurel Canyon.
We could have done without the client list that was used by Slater and Jakob Dylan’s contact list.
My time on Laurel Canyon was spent staying at industry people’s homes and learning the ropes from them. They were television executives, record company executives and film executives. It was at one of these parties I was asked to dance, to show director Henry Saperstein my “talent” and cast for “The Big T.N.T. Show.” I was always more than happy to dance for any of those executives even if I was only 14/15 years old during this time. It did get me onto shows to dance.
It was really great that “Echo In The Canyon” did interview Tom Petty and Michelle Phillips from The Mamas and The Papas who had some great stories to tell. Phillips is still beautiful and she also sang at The Love Fest in 2018.
Petty was talking about Roger McGuinn’s Rickenbacker guitar and how it developed the sound of The Byrds which McGuinn had developed as an answer to The Beatles. Weak connection at best.
Phillips spoke about the song “Go Where You Wanna Go” and the story behind it. Apparently she was having an affair with someone and John Phillips found out about it and wrote the song.
Had they followed Tina Malave’s lead when she wrote, directed, produced and hosted “Eye on L.A.’s” “The Legends of Laurel Canyon” in 2012 which still stands up to scrutiny…. The viewing party of that episode read like a who’s who of the Laurel Canyon scene that included media consultant Eliott Mintz who lived on Laurel Canyon at one time. Malave described this segment as “a work of love” at 2018’s Love Fest.
At the end of the day does “Echo In The Canyon” stand up to scrutiny? In a way yes, but is by no means a definitive work that will cover the essence that was Laurel Canyon. It’s not even a seminal piece of work. It’s a nice film that covers a tiny slice of the magic that was Laurel Canyon at the time.