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  • Laurel Canyon

  • The Inside Story of Life in L.A.'s Legendary Rock and Roll Neighborhood
  • By: Michael Walker
  • Narrated by: Lloyd James
  • Length: 8 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: Arts & Entertainment, Music
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (131 ratings)

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Summary

Laurel Canyon was the neighborhood perched above the clubs and record companies of Sunset Strip where Joni Mitchell, Jim Morrison, Graham Nash, Cass Elliot, Carole King, Don Henley, and Peter Tork, just to name a few, lived and collaborated to make an indelible mark on our music and our culture. This is the story of an important period in rock music, but also of the harsher results of the sixties, as hard drugs and easy sex began to take their toll and the gruesome Wonderland murders signaled the end of the era.
©2006 Michael Walker (P)2006 Blackstone Audio Inc.

Critic reviews

" Laurel Canyon is hilarious and true and bittersweet. Michael Walker catches the mood in the air, and gets it right....The interviews are wonderful....It's a beautifully written document of that time and place when the personalities were as big as those stony dreams that fueled some of the greatest masterpieces in rock." (Cameron Crowe)

What listeners say about Laurel Canyon

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great stories of Laurel Canyon

I had read the hard copy long ago and really enjoyed this audio book. A very easy listen with fantastic tales of musics greatest era.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Informative & entertaining but offers nothing new.

Laurel Canyon is a neighborhood of Los Angeles tucked away in the hills north of Sunset Boulevard. During the mid 60’s it became the home to some of the most successful musicians of the era. The stories that came out of there during that period, from the bohemian to the outright bizarre, gave it a legendary, mythical status. I must admit I have read a lot about this period and watched a lot of documentaries. So although I looked forward to listening to Michael Walker’s book (I listened to it on Audible), the question would be, does it offer anything new?

Michael Walker is a journalist who lives in Laurel Canyon and he obviously loves his subject, this comes across in his book. He compares the canyon during this period to bohemian Paris in the 20’s. He relates the stories of the Canyon with genuine affection and sad resignation when he chronicles its decline. He binds together these stories, not in a straight forward chronological order but in a series of vignettes covering the period from 1967 to 1981. Some of his observations I found a little perplexing, he refers to the folk stars of the early 60’s as ‘the first rock stars’ for example. So what did Walker consider Elvis Presley to be then? There are individual chapters about The Byrds, Frank Zappa, and Mama Cass, these provide potted examinations of their subjects’ lives but nothing ground breaking or new. Other chapters deal with drugs, the hippies of the counter culture, Charles Manson, groupies, and the music business. Walker does have a tendency to digress somewhat during these chapters.

On the whole Laurel Canyon: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll’s Legendary Neighborhood is an informative and entertaining book about that legendary period. It covers all the major players and some of their stories. It does however omit the lesser but equally significant Canyon residents. And as I have mentioned Walker does have a tendency to wander off his subject. The chapters on groupies and the music scene in other parts of the city, the Troubadour and Altamont are examples of this. Likewise a lengthy chapter on the history of drugs is also a little too much information. Although I do agree that these events did have a significant effect on the lives of the inhabitants of the canyon, I found the coverage Walker gave them to be excessive, it felt like he was padding his book out a bit. It’s like writing a book about Ferrari and devoting a whole chapter to the development of petroleum.

So does the book offer anything new? Inside story’ suggests revelations from the people there that we haven’t heard before. ‘However the anecdotes in this book aren’t new and have been widely told in other books, so the answer is no, it doesn’t offer anything new.

1 person found this helpful

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Fantastic book.

Amazing insight into the history of music and laurel canyon. Wonderfully depicted and read. Will read again.

1 person found this helpful

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Another world .

I enjoyed this book. Interesting look inside the world of Laurel Canyon. I don't know how the people mentally survived all those drugs back then. The narrator's voice was clear and pleasant.

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Interesting

I really liked this book - not LOVED it but - indeed it’s an interesting story if you’re drawn to sex drugs and rock and roll. The reader has some questionable pronunciations which slightly annoyed me otherwise certainly enjoyable and his research is thorough but somehow the story wasn’t entertaining
I’m quite fussy so will give it 7 out of 10

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Very Cool

I downloaded this and wasn't sure what I was getting, it turned out to be a fantastic music history lesson, Laurel Canyon was a movement, produced so many great songs and stories, if you have any interest in this I'd say its worth a look.

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this is a treasure trove for me. I loved it.

yes I loved it. I have just talked myself in to starting it again. I am a child of the sixties so this is self indulgent nostalgia.

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self indulgence in 11 chapters - this review has t

this review had to be 15 words long, so here they are - enjoy. .

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Awesome.

Absolutely loved this book. If only I had a time machine. Just excellent storytelling.

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Those were the days

Very good summing up of a time and place, for me. Thoroughly informative. Good narration.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Louise
  • 09-09-06

Interesting book. Poor reader.

As a history of change during the cultural and counter-cultural heyday in Los Angeles, this book is a fascinating tale. Laurel Canyon becomes the stage on which events transpire as well as the abyss in which "the scene" evolves and devolves. Anyone interested in Los Angeles, rock and roll history, the sixties, drug culture, crime and mayhem, will indulge in this story. The only drawback -- and it is quite a major one -- is the reading, which is flat and lacks a sense of pacing. The fatal flaws are repeatedly misplaced pauses that break sentences into dissociated fragments. Nonetheless it is still a worthwhile and valuable "read."

17 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Chris Rowe
  • 21-05-07

OK

The book was alright. I was expecting quite a bit more and hoped for a deeper insight into the goings on of the time. I did find the vocabulary that the writer used to very often be unnecessarily loquacious which repeatedly sent me scurrying off to my thesaurus.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • LB in Dallas
  • 11-09-06

An interesting flashback to the 60s and 70s

Now I can go through my old Joni Mitchel albums and line up the songs with the back ground happenings in Laurel Canyon. The author is not as talented a writer as the people he writes about. He uses the biggest words he can find in the dictionary to say the simplest things. It reminds me of the long winded papers I wrote in grad school. Aside from that, it is an interesting read for the baby boom generation.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • connie
  • 28-05-08

easy listening social history

a very enjoyable listen, for this baby boomer at least. It goes beyond pop culture to capture some of the social history of the time.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Jeff
  • 03-05-08

Fairly Good Book...Hard to Follow in Places

I thought the stories in this book were really good. I would definitely recommend it. The biggest issue I had was that it was hard to follow at certain times. In large part this is due to the fact that this is a compilation of different stories about the canyon. Since this is an audio book, (obviously) if you lose track of who is talking at any point, you can't easily look back and see the name of the narrator. It can make it hard to follow in certain instances...especially if you get side tracked in the middle of a story.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Michael C
  • 23-03-20

Ugh! Reads like a poor PhD manuscript

I watched Echoes in the Canyon snd since I’m 68. That was my time. So I searched and found this book. Ugh what a disappointment. It was too wordy and when the author got wound up his “story” seemed like a treatise in college.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Oemalia
  • 28-09-18

Give it some time

Really good rock bio about a unique hippie neighborhood in LA and it’s significance with rock music. The language is a bit over-descriptive but I just love the information!! Took me a few chapters before I could commit.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Stephen T. Cooksey
  • 17-05-18

Interesting for us oldies!

If you're like me and still listen to 60's and 70's music you won't be dissapointed.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jack Cone
  • 01-04-17

Took me back to where I've never been.

Excellent historical account. I'm no authority, but the writing and the reading made me believe this is well-researched and loved. I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of this book

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Starlet
  • 11-05-12

Journey Down Memory Lane

Being 20 yrs. old in 1967, I was a part of it all, but on the San Francisco side. I made a few visits to LA during that time, but never got to know the real scoop, of course, and this filled the gaps -- it was a fun, easy read. This is a sixties time capsule nugget.

5 people found this helpful