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A dip into one of the fascinating periods of rock history,
This review is from: Hotel California: Singer-songwriters and Cocaine Cowboys in the L.A. Canyons 1967-1976 (Paperback)
Subtitled "Singer-Songwriters and Cocaine Cowboys in the LA Canyons, 1967-1976", this is a dip into one of the fascinating periods of rock history - but also one of the most neglected.
It's the story of the talented but dysfunctional men and women who swirled through the boho milieux of the canyons surrounding LA in the 60s and 70s, and of the business brilliance of men like David Geffen who made so many of them into stars.
Ex-NME and Mojo scribe Barney Hoskyns is a thorough researcher and an elegant wordsmith. He offers a compassionate glimpse into the maverick genius of Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, follows the drugged downward spiral of David Crosby, Gram Parsons and Cass Elliott as though he were tracing the whole decade's gradual descent into decadence and destruction. He describes the rise of country-rock through the stories of The Eagles and Little Feat, and how the glamorous decadence of LA imports like Led Zeppelin embraced the hedonistic past of the city's mainstream.
And through the stories of Geffen and his world, he shows how the dream of social change in the idealistic 60s was gradually transmuted into a business proposition; in the words of poet Jeff Nuttall, "how the market saw that these revolutionaries could be put in a safe pen and given their consumer goods."
In many ways, the story Hoskyns tells is a tragedy, a story of the death of youth and of hope in arguably the most decadent city on earth. But he never takes the easy route, never typecasts his subjects as either hero or villain. One of the book's most touching moments is Geffen's flash of insight into the artistic condition: "Artists tend to be difficult...by that I don't mean more difficult for me - I think their lives are more difficult for them."