Taking time out from a busy schedule devoted to writing his next book, Harvey Kubernik graciously answered a few questions about Canyon of Dreams: The Magic and the Music of Laurel Canyon.
CurledUp.com's Steven Rosen: How long did it take you to research and write Canyon of Dreams?
Harvey Kubernik: I had been researching a book about Hollywood and Los Angeles for over a decade. I then wrote the liner notes to the Carole King "Tapestry" CD reissue in 2008 just before a phone call came in from a packager who was doing some work with Sterling Books asking if I was interested in doing a book on the music of Laurel Canyon. I had 50 interviews already done and conducted another 50 or 60 musician and artist interviews over the next nine months it took to write and assemble this book.
Why were you so enamored with Laurel Canyon?
I always dug and respected a lot of the music that was birthed, recorded and distributed from the Laurel Canyon region. In the mid-'60s I would ride my skateboard around lower Laurel Canyon and all over Sunset Blvd. before I was allowed to enter any of the music venues. So, it made me investigate the first full-throttle rock band records as well as the social media that reported on Laurel Canyon. Another reason I was enamored with Laurel Canyon was that my Driver's Education class at nearby Fairfax High School in the late '60s was taught within the areas and Mt. Olympus in the same vicinity. Plus, besides Venice Beach, it was one of the first areas where I actually saw girls who didn't wear bras on the street and hillsides. That was revealing to a teenager with a new learner's permit earned from navigating the Laurel Canyon streets and roads.
What was the most amazing you thing you found out about Laurel Canyon?
I remember the 1971 Sylmar-based earthquake that really caused damage: psychic, emotional and physical to many Laurel Canyon residents. And, it seemed to be a subject not chronicled or examined in the several music books I glanced at from writers trying to capture Hollywood and Los Angeles. Just one of the many topics I brought forward in the pages. I knew the rumble changed the whole dynamic of the geography. Some public schools like Fairfax and Los Angeles High School had to transfer students or consolidate class rooms together. The complexion of the neighborhood changed. Then, families started to flee from Laurel Canyon later in 1971 and '72. So I was amazed when I asked a handful of musicians and authors about the impact of the 1971 earthquake and I got some insightful and amazing responses from former residents who had not been asked about this traumatic event in over a third of a century. I did an amazing and passionate book so some amazing things and passionate data came to me in the process. In addition, the visuals and the memorabilia really propel the original text and potent information.
Who were your favorite musicians that lived in or were influenced by Laurel Canyon?
Members of bands from Love, The Doors, Buffalo Springfield, Byrds, Monkees, Henry Diltz of The MFQ, Graham Nash, Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan of The Turtles, Frank Zappa, Three Dog Night's Danny Hutton, Van Dyke Parks, Carole King, Jan Henderson, Bill Mumy, Paul Barrere of Little Feat, Sonny & Cher, and record producer Paul A. Rothchild.
Harvey Kubernik, a lifelong resident of the Canyon area, is a veteran music journalist whose work has been published nationally in
Melody Maker, The Los Angeles Free Press, Crawdaddy,
Musician, Goldmine, MIX, The Los Angeles Times and
MOJO, among others. He has been a record producer since 1979 and was a former West Coast Director of A&R for MCA Records. As a West Hollywood and Laurel Canyon insider, he has unparalleled access to the sources, personalities, and even those who lurk in the shadows of the Canyon.
Contributor Steven Rosen interviewed author Harvey Kubernik, author of Canyon of Dreams: The Magic and the Music of Laurel Canyon (see accompanying review), about
his book for curledup.com. Steven Rosen/2010.