Harvey Kubernik loves his subject. The veteran writer/journalist's book on Laurel Canyon, that tiny swatch of hills and berms and dirt roads that cuts through the Hollywood, is a veritable ode to this magical and mystical place. Nestled in the foothills of West Hollywood, Laurel Canyon became the home for many of the most famous bands who were recording and performing
in their time. Everyone from Frank Zappa and Jim Morrison to Joni Mitchell, Buffalo Springfield and The Turtles lived among the funky homes that created a real sense of community.
The author has worked long and hard at uncovering every myth and giving it substance. During the course of his research, the historian interviewed dozens of the Canyon's denizens and many key figures in the community's history. This included members of
The Seeds, The Byrds, Little Feat, Three Dog Night, The Doors, John Mayall, Rodney Bingenheimer, Steve Cropper, Andrew Loog Oldham, Slash, and dozens of others.
The book itself contains some wonderful photos and seems to wind and bend through a series of insightful interviews in the same way the dusty lanes of the Canyon twist and turn among homes built into the side of the mountain. Kubernik captures the flavor of this historic area in the book's very first paragraph:
"Like so many characters who come to Southern California in search of a new narrative, even the eucalyptus trees are not native. Imported from Australia as wind blocks, they serve as vigilant sentinels deployed upon escarpments that defineso much of the topography of Laurel Canyon."
A wordsmith and poet in his own right, there is no one better suited than
Kubernik to writing this history. He went to school at Fairfax High, just a stone's-throw from those imported eucalyptus, and spent his nights down on the Sunset Strip, the famous lane where the musicians living in the canyon played night after night.
This is a wonderful book, and anybody who thinks they know anything about this place and the people who lived there will realize they know nothing after reading Canyon of Dreams.