Laurel Canyon: The Inside Story of Rock-and-Roll's Legendary Neighborhood, Faber & Faber (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor to periodicals, including the New York Times, Rolling Stone, and the Washington Post.
Journalist Michael Walker lives in Laurel Canyon, an area of Los Angeles that has a history of being home to a number of pop music greats. In Laurel Canyon: The Inside Story of Rock-and-Roll's Legendary Neighborhood, Walker writes of the performers—like Joni Mitchell, the Mamas and the Papas, Jim Morrison, Carole King, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, Led Zeppelin, the Byrds, the Turtles, Frank Zappa, Buffalo Springfield, and the Eagles—who created, played, and socialized there. The rustic area was a natural setting for the pop, rock, and country rock singers and songwriters. Walker provides an early history of Laurel Canyon as well as a history of the nearby Sunset Strip and its legendary clubs like Whiskey A Go-Go. Steve Matteo wrote in a Harp review that Walker "evokes the magic of the place wonderfully." Library Journal contributor James E. Perone called Laurel Canyon "a fascinating study."
Walker told CA: "After Laurel Canyon was published and became a surprise best seller, it became evident that the book's audience was both Baby Boomers and their offspring, members of so-called Generation Y. I hadn't foreseen this at all; I had set about trying to capture the atmosphere in the canyon during its heyday, when everyone from Crosby Stills & Nash to Frank Zappa lived, worked and played there and wrote some of the twentieth century's most enduring pop and rock songs, and I assumed the people most likely to connect with my book were those who'd grown up listening to those records.
"So I was suprirsed when nineteen- and twenty-year olds, mostly young women, started appearing at my readings full of questions about the canyon during its incredible creative flowering in the 1960s and 1970s. When I asked one why she and her friends were so passionate about the era—which had, after all, raged twenty years before they were born—her reply was telling and vexing. ‘My generation has this weird nostalgia for a past we've never lived,’ she said. Another commented: ‘We'll never have that’—the ‘that’ being the once in a century, perhaps two centuries, confluence of talent and generational numbers in a setting that inspires indelible culture.
"The lesson for me was that periods of emotional and artistic intensity hold universal appeal for readers. If presented honestly and passionately, these events can in fact burn brighter and truer for those who lived through them as well as those who can only wish they had."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, April 1, 2006, Mike Tribby, review of Laurel Canyon: The Inside Story of Rock-and-Roll's Legendary Neighborhood, p. 13.
Library Journal, April 1, 2006, James E. Perone, review of Laurel Canyon, p. 97.
New York Times Book Review, October 1, 2006, Dave Itzkoss, review of Laurel Canyon.
Harp Online,http://harpmagazine.com/ (September-October, 2006), Steve Matteo, review of Laurel Canyon.
Michael Walker Home Page,http://www.laurelcanyonthebook.com (October 25, 2006).