Occasionally, the movie veers into the greater ’60s culture, such as when it briefly delves into the two events that are primarily regarded as buckets of cold water on the peace and love generation: the murder of Sharon Tate and the Altamont concert. All of a sudden, preconceived notions shifted. Long hair and bare feet could still signal a free-spirited peacenik, but that person could instead be a bloodthirsty cultist. David Crosby went out and bought a shotgun.
“…the documentary’s windblown attention span actually helps it chase the music.”
In exploring the musicians, their stories, and perspectives, Laurel Canyon: A Place In Time uses rare photographs, video, and music outtakes, or demos. A lot of this stuff you can probably find online, some easier than others, but it’s never bad to have it all in one package. Many of the stories are well-known to anyone with an interest in the era’s music, such as the love-quadrangle in the Mamas and the Papas. There is a great one I’d never heard before involving Bob Dylan’s attendance at a Crosby, Stills & Nash show.
At times, it seems like the ’60s happened to the people, rather than because of them. To quote Jim Morrison, “strange days have found us.” Several documentaries have come out in the last year that focus not just on the era’s music, but specifically the Laurel Canyon crowd, such as Echo in the Canyon, David Crosby: Remember My Name, Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice and Zappa. Laurel Canyon: A Place In Time takes a broader view, using the musicians as a rope to guide it through the fog. It arrives at more of an appreciation than an understanding.
Laurel Canyon: A Place In Time was scheduled to screen at the 2020 SXSW Film Festival.