California Dreaming - Laurel Canyon



California Dreaming - Laurel Canyon
JONI MITCHELL: The photographer Joel
Bernstein found an old book that was printed
in the Twenties or Thirties and it said, ‘Ask
anyone in America where the weirdest people
live and they’ll tell you, “In California.” Ask
anyone in California and they’ll say, “Los
Angeles.” Ask anyone in Los Angeles and they’ll
say, “Hollywood.” Ask anyone in Hollywood
where the weirdest people live and they’ll say,
“In Laurel Canyon, on Lookout Mountain.”’
So we all moved onto Lookout Mountain.
JONI MITCHELL: When I first came out to LA with
David Crosby, he had an old maroon Mercedes with
a cassette of Magical Mystery Tour and we drove
down Sunset and up into the hills listening to it. It
was a bit of a culture shock coming out of NewYork,
first of all to have so much greenery around; for me
that was like the elixir of life – suddenly to have
birds hopping in the branches of trees. The little
house in Laurel Canyon had treetops right up against
the window so you felt like you were living in a tree
house. The birds would come in the spring and build
their nests and you’d see the whole operation. And
in the spring there was a cherry tree that blossomed
that I looked down on and I remember thinking this
is like living in a Viewmaster reel! Zappa had a pond
with white ducks floating on it, which I overlooked
from my dining room. I drew those ducks on my
Ladies of the Canyon album. It was so idyllic. My
mother came to visit one time and one day she looked
out of the window and there were three girls floating
around in the pond with the ducks, completely
JIMMY WEBB: California was incredibly good to me. When
people talk about ‘the California dream’ – well, that happened in
my life and it wasn’t a dream. I lived in a beautiful house with
a swimming pool, would get up in the morning and get into my
Corvette and at Christmas time Joni Mitchell, Linda Ronstadt, Peter
Asher, Jackson Browne and Nicolette Larsen would come and sing
carols in front of my house.
NED DOHENY: It was great: you got up at ten or 11
in the morning and you did all kind of naughty things until
the sun set and then you did even more naughty things
after it set and in the process you got to think of yourself
as providing a service of some sort to humanity by
writing these pieces of music that you hoped would
outlive you. That is pretty much the long and the short
of it – the days blended into each other, like rosary beads
melted in a fire.
CYRUS FARYAR: One day Denny Doherty and Cass came
by my house, banged on my door and said ‘Hey, come on out, we’ve
bought you something!’ It was a yellow Studebaker painted with
giant paisleys. A paisley Studebaker! The first thing I did was drive
down to the Laurel Canyon Store to get milk for some tea. I come
back to my car and some dude comes over, leans in and says, ‘Man,
your car is so cool, this is for you!’ and he hands me a joint through
the window of the car! And I’m thinking, ‘This is amazing!’
BOYD ELDER: That whole period felt a lot more
concentrated. There was the Cat and the Fiddle up in
Laurel Canyon and Cass’s house was up off Woodrow
Wilson and we would just migrate back and forth from the
Cat and the Fiddle to Cass’s house. We’d also go to Peter
Tork’s house and Lookout Management.
JACKSON BROWNE: I started living in the Canyon
in about ’66. Laurel Canyon was actually beautiful; there
were hills and there were trees. The houses were nice and
they were not that expensive; the rent was only about 75
bucks a month if you shared with three or four people for
a three or four bedroom house with a pool. You’d meet
incredible people – you’d be walking down the street and
suddenly there would be an amazing six-foot girl with
red hair walking a red Irish Setter – I wanted to know
about all of that! And the Canyon Store was sometimes
swarming with hippies, it was like an infestation – it was
really beautiful. The hills and the houses were full
of people and it was all so promising. There was always
the chance that you might meet somebody that you’d be
really glad to meet. And it didn’t matter if you had a really
great place to live in or not because very often there was
a tree outside and a window to look at the sky and
a mattress on the floor. And that was enough. It was like
an old hippie dream, which I still pursue.
ERIK JACOBSEN: The canyons were so nice and
free and so many cool people came there – it was a
magnet – you could join up with like-minded people.
DAVID CROSBY: Even before The Byrds I was living up in
Laurel Canyon in tiny, little apartments in the basements of houses.
The first thing I bought from money with The Byrds was my own
crummy little house in Laurel Canyon.