Brian Wilson, Tom Petty, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Graham Nash and other rock architects reflect on the creative explosion of mid-Sixties Los Angeles in a new trailer for upcoming documentary Echo in the Canyon. Andrew Slater — a former music journalist, record producer and label executive — helmed the film, which explores the influence of the definitive “California sound” cemented by artists like the Beach Boys, the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and the Mamas and the Papas.
Throughout the clip, songwriters recall the sonic cross-pollination that occurred during this fertile period, when bands showed up at each others’ houses, played in-progress songs and took inspiration from each other’s music. “California was like this legendary paradise,” Petty says, before plugging in a signature Rickenbacker electric guitar. (The doc marks his last film interview.) “Laurel Canyon became this heavenly place,” Clapton recalls, and Starr notes that he “fell in love” with the scene.
The trailer also points toward the influence these artists had on the next generation of songwriters. “The music that came out of the Laurel Canyon scene was inspiring to my generation of songwriters,” says Jakob Dylan, the film’s star and executive producer. “These records come all of the sudden, like an avalanche,” Beck says, “and there’s nothing like them before.”
In a statement about the film, Dylan expanded on this theme. “The best test of songwriting is that it transcends its moment in time,” he said. “And there is no doubt that the songs we explore in this film are as powerful today as they were in 1965.”
Echo in the Canyon also includes conversations with Michelle Phillips, Stephen Stills, David Crosby, Roger McGuinn, Jackson Browne, Fiona Apple, Cat Power and Norah Jones. The film opens in Los Angeles on May 24th at Arclight’s Cinerama Dome and the Landmark, followed by a New York premiere at the Angelika and The Landmark at 57 West on May 31st. (Both openings will feature performances by musicians from the film all weekend.) A national rollout and a soundtrack will follow in June.