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“Echo in the Canyon”

Music documentary explores the relevance and unique sound of the sixties

Adria Cooper, Staff Reporter
October 25, 2019

“Echo in the Canyon” is a nostalgic new documentary that offers an enticing look at the music produced in Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles, in the mid-60s. This unique time saw the merging of folk and rock as well as collaborative songwriting.

Released May 24, 2019, “Echo in the Canyon” follows bands such as the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and the Beach Boys. Stephen Stills, Michelle Phillips, Jackson Browne and other artists are featured looking back at the era that brought them so much success.

The aged rockers are interviewed by Jakob Dylan who is Bob Dylan’s son and a musician himself. The fact that Jakob Dylan is familiar with the business and that the interviews are done outdoors or in music shops gives the documentary a more laid back vibe. The musicians are taking viewers with them in their memories rather than recounting facts. 

This mode of storytelling gives viewers a more personal connection to what is being said because there is more emotion attached. The artists are genuinely passionate about discussing their stories and giving insight on their songs.  

For those that grew up in the 60s, “Echo in the Canyon” is a wonderful record of the popular music that flowed from Laurel Canyon and made up the Californian sound. For those who grew up listening to this music but weren’t around in the 60s, it presents a window to the past, giving meaning to and growing appreciation for the music of this time.

Music has changed a lot since the 60s, so if you exclusively listen to rap or electronic music, “Echo in the Canyon” may not be for you. However, crowds that appreciate the progression of music and/or the music of this time will love the honesty, depth and emotion of the documentary as well as the fact that it will be on Netflix starting this month.

Aspects of both old and new are mixed together in the film. Live performance clips from the 60s are scattered throughout the film to provide flashbacks as the performers discuss their careers. 

The soundtrack for the film consists of the songs from the era while more modern singers such as Beck and Norah Jones sing them, helping create a connection to current times.

They do a good job of keeping the arrangements close to the original, as the focus of the film is to draw attention to the individual sound that was produced in Laurel Canyon. 

     The film details the evolution of music, with connections being made between melodies and chords used in albums such as “Pet Sounds” and classical music. In turn, songwriters like Tom Petty, who is featured in the film, as well as more current artists can draw and learn from the music of the era. These connections that are pointed out are part of what makes “Echo in the Canyon” so interesting and complex.

The purpose of “Echo in the Canyon” is to highlight why this time and place was so special. All these amazing musicians were in one place so they were able to inspire each other and collaborate, showing up unexpectedly on eachothers door steps. This unique community is why such a distinctive sound was created by a plethora of groups.     

At the beginning of the film an echo is defined as “a close parallel or repetition of an idea, feeling, style, or event.” The inclusion of this term in the title addresses the fact that music reflects itself. “Echo in the Canyon” explores the similarities of the music from the mid-60s, but it also introduces the idea that music evolves while still borrowing from the past.

Despite not fitting in with mainstream productions, “Echo in the Canyon” is well worth the watch. It allows an untainted look into the music business, focusing on artistry and creativity instead of the money and success. Explore what Laurel Canyon has to offer; you’ll be glad you did.

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“Echo in the Canyon”