A picture of Fiona Apple popped up on my digital picture frame the other day. It spurred a question in me, namely, “What ever happened to Fiona Apple?”
Then, there I am watching “Echo in the Canyon,” a documentary about the music that came out of Laurel Canyon in California in the 1960’s, and who shows up? Yup, Fiona Apple! Now I know, she is still making music! Yay!
Okay, let’s get to the documentary…
“Echo in the Canyon” is a look at how the California music scene of the mid to late 1960’s blew up, thanks mostly in part to many of the influential artists who would go on to make that music settling in a spot in Los Angeles called Laurel Canyon.
The documentary is a mix of interviews of those involved, including some of the last interview footage with Tom Petty, as well interspersing “Making of” sections of the concert of “Echo in the Canyon” held at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles, as well as the recording of the album with the same name where Jakob Dylan duets with the likes of current folks like Beck, Norah Jones, and yes, Fiona Apple, as well as some of the greats from the era like Neil Young and Eric Clapton, on duets of the classic spotlighted in the movie.
The reflections by the likes of Brian Wilson, Michelle Phillips, and David Crosby, really gave insight into how the music scene that developed was a wonderful place for creativity. It wasn’t unheard of for a singer to just show up at someone else’s house with their guitar and say, “Hey, listen to this…” Suddenly awesome music was born.
It was fun hearing the reflections of the times, how, and I don’t know why I keep forgetting this, how instrumental a group like The Beach Boys was to the music of The Beatles, and how the music of that day still resonates with many of the musical greats.
Also fun was watching some of the elders watching the youngin’s recording their songs, like Michelle Phillips of the Mama’s and The Papa’s watching Jakob Dylan and Jade Castrinos covering “Go Where You Wanna Go.”
While there was a lot of fun and interesting stories, what was missing, and I couldn’t put my finger on it until someone else watching it with me pointed it out, was the fact that the interviews weren’t really interviews. The interviews were, for all but one segment, Jakob Dylan listening to one of the musical greats talk about Laurel Canyon while nodding and saying “Mm, hmm.” The lead-in questions weren’t there, so you don’t really know how Jakob got the answer that was being given, and Jakob really didn’t have much emotion during the answers. I love Jakob Dylan as a musician, but as an interviewer, and maybe it made the people involved more comfortable because he was doing it, but a little more emotion and the lead-in questions would have helped a bunch for me.
Look, if you want a great look back at the creation of the California Sound, how it came together, and revisit classics from that era, “Echo in the Canyon” is a wonderful look into how the music came to be classic. As an interview documentary, though, it leads many things to be desired.
It’s still 4 stars out of 5 for “Echo in the Canyon.” Music like that will probably never be created again, collaborations like that will probably never happen again, and you get to also see what Fiona Apple is up to!
That’s it for this one! L8R!!