Message from discussion Laurel Canyon vs Haight
NNTP-Posting-Date: Sat, 09 Jun 2007 21:20:48 -0500
From: "Bzl." <bzl...@nelsoncable.com>
Subject: Re: Laurel Canyon vs Haight
Date: Sat, 9 Jun 2007 22:20:42 -0400
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"frndthdevl" <frndthd...@aol.com> wrote in message
(Don't Go Back to) San Francisco
By MICHAEL WALKER
Published: June 9, 2007
SHAKE the stems and seeds out of the Persian rug and put some flowers
your hair: the Summer of Love is 40 years old. The patchouli-scented
commemoration has fixated on San Francisco, the Summer of Love's
nexus. What wretched Midwestern longhair-in-waiting in the summer of
could resist the siren of Scott McKenzie's Top 5 hit, "San Francisco
Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)"? Untold VW microbuses from Ann
Amherst chugged west on little more than the song's purple-hazy
tribes were gathering, and they were gathering in San Francisco.
But as a lasting cultural artifact, San Francisco's Summer of Love
hold a stick of incense to the rafter-shaking sounds coming out that
year from a Los Angeles neighborhood 370 miles south, above the
Strip. If we measure '60s pop-cultural landmarks by the epoch-
music they generate - and, from Liverpool to Woodstock, we do - then
Canyon was the more evolved and influential destination that summer.
Laurel Canyon had been filling up with the baby boom's brightest
lights since 1965, when members of the Byrds, Los Angeles's seminal
folk-rockers, moved in, just as their version of Bob Dylan's "Mr.
Man" was a triumphant, worldwide smash. Soon, it seemed, every
note in Los Angeles had moved next door: members of the Mamas and the
the Doors, the Seeds, the Turtles and Love were later joined by Joni
Mitchell, Graham Nash, Frank Zappa, Carole King and untold transient
royalty from the Beatles to the Rolling Stones.
By the summer of '67, the Laurel Canyon mafia had defined the budding
Coast counterculture with an avalanche of generation-unifying songs
blended the last vestiges of the folk-music revival with the impudent
exuberance of the British Invasion.
Laurel Canyon and Los Angeles were home to the murderers' row of
alongside the Byrds - "America's Beatles" according to the not
undeserved hype - lived Buffalo Springfield, from whose ranks would
Stephen Stills, Neil Young and Richie Furay. The Mamas and the Papas,
Canyon's house band, had already recorded a string of landmark hits
with "California Dreamin'." The revolutionary flower-punk of Love
the blistering "Seven and Seven Is," a slap to the face masquerading
hit single. The Turtles bounced the Beatles' "Penny Lane" from No. 1
"Happy Together," and a couple of months later, The Doors' "Light My
with brooding couplets that juxtaposed sexual longing and funeral
rode the charts for weeks during the putatively flower-strewn summer.
San Francisco's music scene developed under conditions vastly
those in Los Angeles. Unstructured gigs at the city's acid-drenched
ballrooms encouraged epic jams of the sort perfected by the Grateful
Big Brother and the Holding Company, and the Jefferson Airplane, along
a naïve anticommercialism - hit singles were for the hacks in Laurel
The irony is that San Francisco's bands are remembered today chiefly
few times they made commercially successful music, as with Jefferson
Airplane's 1967 "Surrealistic Pillow" album and its Top 10 singles
to Love" and "White Rabbit."
Where San Francisco's music scene was administered by a handful of
show-business novices, Los Angeles was home to Capitol Records, the
label, as well as the world's finest recording studios, producers and
engineers. Laurel Canyon's proximity to this infrastructure - the
proving ground of the Sunset Strip's clubs was a five-minute
away - instilled in the musicians a professionalism that stiffened the
of the material they wrote and performed.
In the end, 1967's most prescient generational temperature-taking can
found in yet another Los Angeles song that hit the Top 10 just before
Summer of Love took off. Buffalo Springfield's chilling "For What
Worth," inspired by Stephen Stills's eyewitness account of police
brutalizing longhairs on the Sunset Strip, questioned the motives of
the establishment and the self-congratulating counterculture. Given
turmoil that lay just around the corner in 1968, the paranoia of "For
It's Worth" strikes deep and true: "there's a man with a gun over
turned out, would have as much to do with the baby boom generation as
wearing flowers in your hair.
The Summer of Love will forever be entwined with San Francisco. But
critic Robert Christgau predicted in 1967 that "the real music would
from Los Angeles." And he was right. The songs that came out of the
that summer now seem fixed in amber, as temporal as a Fillmore poster,
the music from Los Angeles and Laurel Canyon soldiers on, impervious
Even the Summer of Love's anthem, Scott McKenzie's "San Francisco,"
written and recorded in Los Angeles. The song was conceived by John
of the Mamas and the Papas expressly as a come-on for the Monterey
International Pop Music Festival, which Mr. Phillips and Lou Adler,
Angeles record producer, were organizing. The lyrics vividly imagine
hippie-sanctified San Francisco, but the flowers in the title are
from Los Angeles: Mr. McKenzie recorded the song while wearing
wildflowers plucked in Laurel Canyon.
Michael Walker is the author of "Laurel Canyon: The Inside Story of
Roll's Legendary Neighborhood."
Seems the difference is Establishment (LA) vs. Anti-establishment (SF). I'd
say the author completely misses the point with "The irony is that San
Francisco's bands are remembered today chiefly for the few times they made
commercially successful music". There are a couple million concertgoers who
weren't around Back When who might have an argument against this.
I read this this morning in the NY Times (just to give proper attribution)