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Legends of the Canyon

Posted by Miss Ess, November 16, 2010 05:13pm | Post a Comment
david crosby, joni mitchell, eric clapton

crosby, joni mitchell, eric clapton

If you're looking for an enjoyable romp through the late '60s/early '70s Laurel Canyon scene, Legends of the Canyon is the film for you. Photographer Henry Diltz narrates, and his photos and footage are used throughout, along with enlightening interviews with folks like David Crosby, Ahmet Ertegun, Van Dyke Parks, Michelle Phillips, David Geffen, Stephen Stills, Dallas Taylor, plus some great talk from Graham Nash, and many more.

There's an easy intimacy in the interviews, no doubt because Henry was involved in the process and he has known and been friends with these people for decades. Stephen Stills reveals how he was completely intimidated by Joni Mitchell, Michelle Phillips touches on how vulnerable Gene Clark was, Dallas Taylor talks about what made Graham Nash cry, and Graham Nash speaks of Neil Young's total devotion to the music, among many other stories. There's interview extras on the disc as well, a sweet inclusion.

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(In which we consider the mystical & tragic Judee Sill.)

Posted by Job O Brother, July 29, 2008 12:25pm | Post a Comment
robber

Last night I was mugged at gunpoint. The perpetrator not only made off with the $560.00 in cash that I was carrying (which I had intended to deposit today) but he knocked me down to the ground and kicked me hard enough that he left a nasty bruise in my ribs before he made his getaway on a magic, chocolate-colored Pegasus.

None of which is true, but it is a rather exciting way to begin this week’s blog entry, isn’t it? Except that, by lying to you, I have now risked alienating you emotionally, because you will now think twice about trusting what I tell you, even if it’s about how much I like that top you’re wearing and how to sets off the flecks of color in your shimmering eyes.

Speaking of violence and the romantic visage of your enduring beauty, I know some of you haven’t yet heeded my advice and investigated one of my most favorite balladeers of all time: Judee Sill.
 
Judee Sill
Judee Sill conducts herself well.

Judee’s story is one of tragic darkness, from which sprung gorgeous and sage songwriting. She was the Billie Holiday of the “Laurel Canyon sound.”

Influenced more by Johann Sebastian Bach than her 1970’s rock ‘n’ blow contemporaries, methodical composition such as fugue-structure, and over-dubbing of her own voice into chorale-style, inform her heart-wrenched post-hymns.

Her father and brother both died when she was a child, and her mother re-married to Kenneth Muse, an animator for one of my least favorite cartoons of all time, Tom & Jerry. (I mean really, the way that mouse antagonizes that poor cat, who very naturally fights back – both by his nature as a felis catus and in defense of Jerry’s cruelty – only to be downtrodden every time. What kind of message does that send to children? BE A BULLY. That’s what it tells ‘em. And then poor, sensitive, fat kids like me get the brunt of it. And all I ever wanted was to love and be loved. Is that so wrong?!)

[Insert sound of Job sobbing here]
Judee Sill

Judee left her dysfunctional home (I imagine her stepfather probably lured her head into a mouse-hole and bopped her face with a mallet) and hit the road for a life of free-wheeling druggery and armed robbery. She developed an addiction to that precocious li’l drug we call heroin. In order to pay for the habit, she prostituted herself (which almost certainly prepared her for a life as a professional musician).

The Cros: I'd Swear There Was Somebody Here...

Posted by Miss Ess, May 8, 2008 12:04pm | Post a Comment
David Crosby has a well-earned reputation for being an angelic-faced bad boy, a drug addicted ego david crosby mug shotfreak. His work throughout the 60s and early 70s was mostly within the confines of The Byrds or Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. There is one record though, that to me is the standout among all the work of both of those bands, and it technically belongs to Crosby alone.
 
Crosby's first solo record, If I Could Only Remember My Name, as far as I am concerned, is one of the best albums ever created in the first place. It's an oddity for sure, and it seems miraculous that it was ever made. The album was recorded in San Francisco's Tenderloin in 1970/71. Sonically it's pure Cros-- heavy on the mystical harmonies, musically meandering all over the place-- but it also has guest appearances by Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Jedavid crosby solo if i could only remember my namerry Garcia, and Jorma Kaukonen, among many others. One of the best parts about the record is laying back, letting the sound float around you and then hearing intermittent vocals from Joni and Neil washing in and out of different songs. Though this is a solo album, the feeling of the record is often one of hazy collaboration, of seamless blending toward a greater vision. Someone needs to write a book about these recording sessions, if anyone can remember them!

The title just seems so fittingly Crosby! It always kind of cracks me up. The early 70s were a particularly drug-addled period for him. I recently read that he was referring to reincarnation with the title, not general confusion...but if you listen closely to the lyrics they seem to often reference being overwhelmed by city life, distrust and paranoia. All of this is presented in gorgeous, hooky tracks, so you could easily miss some of the more heavy themes. On the positive side of the lyrics, there are tracks like the beautiful and hippy-ish "Music Is Love." Check out this awesome performance of "Traction in the Rain" by Crosby and Graham Nash. This was on the BBC before the record was even recorded.

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