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History of the Laurel Canyon Music Scene
by Alex Cosper (3/26/15)

During the mid 1960s the Laurel Canyon music scene spawned many important artists of the psychedelic era. The Byrds made a huge impact with their new psychedelic folk sound that they unleashed in 1965 with the number one hit "Mr. Tambourine Man." The song was written by Bob Dylan and had a very inviting sound, much like a pied piper in children's fairytales. It also had a very unique guitar sound, as it sounded fuller and more colorful than the guitars of the past. That's because it was a new type of guitar, known as a 12 string electric guitar.

The Byrds were clearly influenced by a mix of the Beatles and Bob Dylan. They also covered the Dylan song "My Back Pages" and "All I Really Want To Do." The recording they did that changed music history was "Eight Miles High," which got airplay in 1966, but was banned by many radio stations for its drug references. Sonically, the single marked the beginning of psychedelic rock. Despite making an incredible impact in history, The Byrds began to fade in popularity by the late sixties. Ironically, they shifted to a country rock sound but were not as successful. They are, however, often credited as an early country rock band that influenced later bands such as The Eagles.

David Crosby had been one of the founding members of The Byrds with Roger McGuinn. Crosby went on to join Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Both Stills and Young were also members of Buffalo Springfield, whose hit "For What It's Worth" is considered a landmark song in the history of hippy music. The song is often linked to the protest movement at college campuses, although that was not the original intent of the song.

The most ironic act of the Laurel Canyon scene had to have been The Doors. The band was certainly more celebrated by the hippy movement than the pro-war crowd of the sixties. Yet Jim Morrison's father, Admiral George Morrison, who was a high ranking officer who commanded the United States fleet in the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which led to the Vietnam War. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara later admitted the event was based on false information. On one hand was a father who helped usher in a very unpopular war and the other was the son who became an icon among the anti-war crowd with songs such as "The Unknown Soldier" and "Five To One."

Once the protest movement cooled off and the Vietnam War had ended by the mid-seventies, The Eagles had established themselves as the new top band from California. By the time their album Hotel California came out in 1976, they were also becoming one of America's top rock bands. At the same time, many rock critics have lumped The Eagles in with other mellow rock bands of the decade as part of a wave of middle of the road music that shaped the sound of adult contemporary radio.

THE BYRDS - Mr. Tambourine Man
THE DOORS - L.A. Woman
THE HOLLIES - Long Cool Woman (In a Black Dress)
THE EAGLES - Life In The Fast Lane
LINDA RONSTADT - Someone To Lay Down Beside Me
BEACH BOYS - California Girls
MAMAS & THE PAPAS - California Dreamin'
STEPHEN STILLS - Love The One You're With
BONNIE RAITT - Have a Heart
THE MONKEES - Princeton University - I'm a Believer
RANDY NEWMAN - Short People

See also:

History of Classical Music
How to start a music project
Tips on how to produce music
Job of a live sound engineer
Affordable ways to promote music online

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