First Hit: Although not great in a lasting way, I loved this film because it brought me home.
I was fortunate enough to be interested in and excited by the music developed during the mid-1960s. I had gotten a guitar at age 12, and by 1965, at age 15, I wanted to be a rock and roll star. Music, popular music, was changing radically during this time and up and through 1970 a profound change was taking place both culturally and musically. I wanted to be part of it. It never happened, but watching this film, I got to see how the music I loved got brewed.
This film endeavors to put some context to the change that was happening and specifically, the LA music scene. To do this, Jakob Dylan (Bob’s son), uses his interest in how music changed during this time to discover more about what happened. He interviews a number of those musicians, producers, and through archival footage, we are taken back to what happened.
There is a canyon in LA called Laurel Canyon, where musicians lived, hung-out together, but more importantly, played music together. Founding members of the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield,, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, The Beach Boys, Mamas and Papas, and several other bands and musicians all lived at some point in Laurel Canyon.
Because I grew up in Southern California, I was aware of the scene on Sunset Blvd and the clubs these bands played. The Whiskey a Go Go, The Roxy, and the Troubadour and others were where these bands publicly tried out their material.
The interviews in this film I found fascinating. David Crosby, Steven Stills, Eric Clapton, Roger McGuinn, Graham Nash, Tom Petty, Michelle Phillips, John Sebastian, Ringo Starr, Brian Wilson, Jackson Browne, and Lou Adler were illuminating and brought forth fantastic memories.
Vintage footage of these bands playing pulled at my heart. I cried as my own memories of this music flooded my soul.
Jakob staged a concert playing some of these songs, including some of the lesser-known numbers (Buffalo Springfield’s “Questions” to name one) to an enthusiastic audience. And although he put his, and his group of musicians, own wonderful flavor on these songs, I was really only hearing the original music in my head and wanted to sing along all the songs. Alas, I was in a movie theater and didn’t – my heart did.
And that’s what I loved about this film. I reminded me of my youth, the importance of music, and my relationship with these songs. This movie gave me a more in-depth perspective of the music I grew up on.
What didn’t work for me? I would have liked less of Jakob’s band playing the songs in the studio and on the stage. But I get why this is part of the film. It is a potent reminder that these songs can be carried on by younger generations. Watching Fiona Apple, Beck, Justine Bennett, Nora Jones, Jade Castrinos, and Jakob Dylan sing these songs from their hearts was outstanding as well.
Eric Barrett and Andrew Slater have the writing credits, but it was some of the responses by musicians that grabbed me. Slater did an excellent job of taking me back home, musically.
Overall: I quickly accessed beautiful memories and feelings while watching this film.