Yeah, well, we needed some music. Rugged times tend to do that to us.
And the very wise “they” who say wise things always say that you go back to what you know – so we went back to the ’60s.
Our tour guide for this musical venture back to a seminal time in the American, hell, global music scene, is one Jakob Dylan, who brings more than a little street cred to the game and who seems to strip away much of the veil clouding interviews with musicians perhaps unwilling to snitch on the excesses of bandmates or scheming, tight-fisted record companies.
Dylan brings cameras along to interviews with the folks who wrote and crafted those benchmark musical landmarks currently peppering contemporary movie soundtracks and who were all drawn by their love of music to a hillside cleft in the mountains ringing Los Angeles waaaay back in the 1960s – a time when musical giants and dinosaurs walked the earth.
Those of us around back then remember the spirit of the pre-Mansonesque times: hitchhiking hippies, two-fingered “peace” signs, country stores selling rolling papers and beer, love beads, bell-bottoms and girlfriend-embroidered work shirts. There were haunts in Marin County, Berkeley, and Laurel Canyon in LA – where the greats gathered to get high, make music or move on each others’ boyfriend or girlfriend while waiting to land a career-breaking gig on Sunset.
Presumably, Dylan’s musical connections enabled him to collect valuable archival footage of the Canyon, its hairy denizens, and their performances – many of which ended up as the soundtrack for a generation. The level of intimacy he brings to interviews with aging Rock Gods provides us with a pleasant access, and his sit-down with current stars as they dissect a coffee table littered with the albums of our youth is prescient. That they take things a step further and perform that music is just another added gift.
The movie is bound to move the needles of music historians drawing lines between improvised riffs and songs and how The Beatles led to The Byrds, and then in turn how The Beach Boys’ landmark album, “Pet Sounds,” inspired “Sgt. Pepper.”
OUR RECOMMENDATION: Stream it. Meandering trip back to the ’60s with some good music and moments with the Gods of Music.
DRAWBACKS: No mention of the Queen of the Canyon – Joni Mitchell – to the point that it left us wondering why. Also MIA: the Eagles, Love, Jim Morrison and James Taylor; Carole King gets a hat-tip but not much else. Strangely intercut with scenes from “Model Shop” which we suppose was drafted to provide a vintage visual background for the film.
GOOD LINES: “I was a very busy girl…” – Michelle Phillips
WHERE TO SEE IT: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu and Google Play