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Hotel California: The True-Life Adventures of Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young, Mitchell, Taylor, Browne, Ronstadt, Geffen, the Eagles, and Their Many Friends Paperback – May 1, 2007

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Hotel California: The True-Life Adventures of Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young, Mitchell, Taylor, Browne, Ronstadt, Geffen, the Eagles, and Their Many Friends + Canyon of Dreams: The Magic and the Music of Laurel Canyon + Laurel Canyon: The Inside Story of Rock-and-Roll's Legendary Neighborhood
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (May 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470127775
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470127773
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #60,902 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As musical scenes go, it would be hard to come up with a less dramatic one than that of the singer/songwriters who dominated Southern California from the mid-1960s through the mid-'70s. Nevertheless, British music journalist Hoskyns gamely tries to make the "denim navel-gazers and cheesecloth millionaires of the Los Angeles canyons" exciting in his no-nonsense account of those musicians' rise and fall. Jumping right in with little introduction, Hoskyns relays the particulars of the burgeoning scene that drew sensitive musicians west from Greenwich Village, limning the differences between those who lived in Topanga and Laurel Canyons and detailing the explosive shocks to their insular world (like the Monterey Pop festival and the Manson murders), all leading up to the cash-register mentality that formed the Eagles. The cast is robust-ranging from the intense Joni Mitchell and mercenary David Geffen to neo-beatnik Tom Waits-but not deeply examined. Hoskyns has a better ear for the music, letting his record-critic side take over with adjective-riddled prose. Still, Hoskyns's account shows how the "back-porch folkies" of the scene's early days eventually morphed into "Lear-jet superstars."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


* In ""Hotel California,"" Barney Hoskyns uses variations on a telling phrase - ""wise (or weary) be-yond their years"" - to explain why the compositions of the Los Angeles-based singer-songwriters of the early to mid-1970s have proved so enduring.
Joni Mitchell; Neil Young; Jackson Browne; James Taylor; ""Tapestry""-era Carole King; Crosby, Stills and Nash  their songs really did seem special then and, to a surprising degree, remain so now.
Influenced by the way Bob Dylan's success in the 1960s gave young songwriters permission to say anything they wanted in their lyrics, and created an audience that eagerly awaited such daring writing, they moved toward the intimately confessional. They were uncommonly good at it, often ruefully melancholy, and they scored million-selling hits.
Hoskyns looks at the time and place that spawned the singer-songwriters and their friends and lovers - the counterculture-friendly, surprisingly rustic and (at the time) affordable hillside canyons separating Los Angeles' busy basin and oceanfront communities from its equally busy suburban Valley. Laurel Canyon, especially, but also Topanga Canyon and some others. Some of the book's subjects were born in Southern California and some came from elsewhere; some started writing in California and some brought their established careers with them.
""It was very different from the Tin Pan Alley tradition, where guys would sit down and try to write a hit song and turn out these teen-romance songs about other people,"" Henry Diltz, a photographer friend of the singer-songwriters, is quoted as saying.
The results - Mitchell's ""Ladies of the Canyon"" and ""Both Sides Now,"" Young's ""Old Man"" and ""Heart of Gold,"" Browne's ""For a Dancer,"" Taylor's ""Fire and Rain,"" King's ""It's Too Late"" and many more - constitute a golden era of American songwriting.
It's one that might not come again in terms of quality and cultural impact. And the possibility that it was a peak seems to be dawning on their core audience of aging boomers, as well as publishers. Hoskyns' book follows by just a few weeks another on the same subject, Michael Walker's ""Laurel Canyon.""
This takes its title from a song by one of the biggest acts to emerge from the milieu, the Eagles, who covered material from the singer-songwriters in addition to composing their own. They are not the best examples of the scene's artistry but certainly of its commercial success. Hoskyns uses the term ""rocklite"" to describe their sound.
A British journalist and critic whose previous books about American music include the superb ""Strange Days, Weird Scenes, and the Sound of Los Angeles"" and ""Across the Great Divide: The Band and America,"" Hoskyns is knowledgeable about his subject. He loves delving behind the hits and the superstars to see who else was making valuable music in L.A. during the period.
In doing so, he points out that the canyon's ""organic"" singer-songwriters weren't the only thing happening in L.A., nor was their approach unchallenged by others. As a result, ""Hotel California"" has some lively and intriguing ideas about the shortcomings of confessional songwriting - a preoccupation with self-reflection - that gives the book intellectual weight.
An L.A. singer-songwriter who was a contemporary of the others - Randy Newman - has proven long-lasting precisely because he wasn't confessional, Hoskyns observes. ""Using third-person characters - or singing in character - Randy's songs were suffused by irony, often stunningly funny."" He also has praise for the satirically political work of Frank Zappa, and for the exploration of ""the darker side of the California dream"" pursued by Tim Buckley and Tom Waits.
For that matter, Neil Young had as much of a dark side as an idealistic one, Hoskyns points out - he once recommended that his record label sign an aspiring songwriter named Charles Manson (be-fore the Tate-LaBianca murders).
In their personal lives, the canyon singer-songwriters pract
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

The author tries to cover too much ground.
Elaine Dodson
I found the book very interesting and informative about the music scene in Southern California in the late 60's and very early 70's.
Kelly Wolfe
This book is a worthwhile read to anyone who grew up in the era or is interested in the music.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

97 of 102 people found the following review helpful By Bill on July 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
If you turn your nose up at early-'70s LA music, but really know more about the Eagles, Jackson Browne, Fleetwood Mac, etc. than you'd like to admit, then "Hotel California" is a recommended guilty pleasure.

On the other hand, if you've grown to admire the craftsmanship and durability of the songs that came out of that era, you probably deserve a more thorough and mature account of the "cowboy canyon" scene (to use Walter Becker's phrase).

Barney Hoskyns deftly covers a lot of historical ground in about 250 pages. But the quick pace leaves more than a few loose ends hanging. Early major players Barry Friedman and Mama Cass fade away fast, while Fleetwood Mac has its meteoric rise crammed into two pages. Disappointingly, Hoskyns spends more time on faves Gene Clark of the Byrds and Lowell George of Little Feat.

This leaves the usual chronicling of mega-players David Geffen, Irving Azoff, The Eagles, Linda Rondstadt, CSNY, Jackson Browne, At least novices will find out why JD Souther was so integral to the scene, even if his solo albums aren't well known.

That said, there is some bitchy fun to be had reading less-than-flattering accounts of Joni Mitchell (high-living snob), Gram Parsons (rich-kid hanger on) and even Neil Young (whose mercurial career changes seem less heroic than self-centered). These irreverant portraits are refreshing, if one-dimensional.

Wait until this comes out in paperback. Crack open a bottle of Cuervo and a few other refreshments from the era and enjoy a frivolous afternoon.
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50 of 53 people found the following review helpful By R. Spell VINE VOICE on July 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The definitive book on the California sound from the Laurel Canyon 60s to the cocaine addled 70s, it's all here. Special emphasis is paid to David Geffen's venture from agent to music record company owner and his specific group of artists, Jackson Browne, Eagles, JD Souther and Linda Ronstadt. The rest of music history also is here like the singer/songwriter hangout, the Troubadour. This is a fascinating period that celebrates political upheaval and the influence of songs written with meaning vs. pop love songs. For anyone with an interest in popular music, American culture or Los Angeles specifically, this is worth the read and I strongly recommend it.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Lance M. Wilson on June 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Hoskyns new book isn't the masterpiece that his previous 'Waiting for the Sun' was but it's a fine job, nonetheless. The Laurel Canyon scene in the '70s is a much-derided smorgasbourg of drugs, sex and oh-so-mellow California rock whose major exponents (The Eagles, Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell, Crosy Stills and Nash, etc.) have been forgotten in the past few decades by those who never got past their punk obsessions. While not exactly considered "hip" in 2006 this music actually has a lot to offer.

Joni and Jackson were responsible for a succession of excellent singer songwriter LPs spread out amongst the entire decade. The Eagles were perhaps the biggest selling US band of the time. Linda Ronstadt--the most popular female rocker (if you can call her that) of the second half of the decade, never wrote her own material but recorded some better than average records which were unavoidable on '70s FM radio. Other luminaries such as J.D. Souther, Randy Newman, Van Dyke Parks and many others get generous coverage.

So pick it up. If this kind of music interests you at all you won't be dissapointed.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Nance on March 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover
It is hard to describe to someone the meaning of serendipity if they have never experienced it. And it happens rarely enough in life. But the purchase and subsequent reading of this book happened at exactly the same time as David Geffen's emergence as a news story presence in the past month.

Geffen is a major part of the story of Hotel California. His influence and drive helped to make the emergence of the left coast as the "new music capital" of America possible. But the story is so huge and involves so many figures that the book would have to be three times as long in order tell more than a cursory overview of the California music scene.

I also don't know if the book does particular homage in a good light to certain personalities of the day, especially Joni Mitchell. The rest of the cast of characters are all very familiar to anyone over the age of 45 and this book is a good introduction to the California scene. When combined with several other excellent book that are currently available about The Byrds, Gene Clark, Buffalo Springfield, Neil Young as well as Crosby, Stills and Nash, the picture becomes more focused. Otherwise, this book is like watching the history of a decade or more of music in a two hour special by Ken Burns. It leaves you wanting more.

Buy it, read it and then keeping reading other accounts of the time. It can take you back and take you forward... just like the music and the scene in 70's California.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By John L Murphy TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 8, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Having enjoyed Hoskyns' story of L.A. rock's origins and evolution in his Waiting for the Sun, and having read Michael Walker's overlapping (in subject matter, time of study, and time of publication) Laurel Canyon [also reviewed by me], I approached Hotel Cal with anticipation. Although I was still in childhood/adolescence at the time of the early 70s that Hoskyns' new book surveys, and although much of the music was not so much liked by me as simply absorbed from its immensely popular and understandably nearly ubiquitous presence on the local L.A. radio stations at the time, I found myself recalling dozens of songs that I have not heard since three decades ago!

Hoskyns's skill in this book, as in his previous Los Angeles music book, is an ability to sift through anecdotes, interviews, his own and others' journalism, and to present a clearly told, accessible, and entertaining read. It's neither too gossipy nor too clinical; he manages, I think, to find pretty much the right balance. Walker and Hoskyns agree that the rise of the early 70s musicians party and pleasure ethos by its hedonism, navel gazing, and focus on self-satisfaction tolled the death knoll for Summer of Love idealism. Figures who bridged these two eras (pre-Woodstock to post-Watergate) such as Crosby and Stills come off the worse for wear after this chemically fueled race to the top of the charts. Those who followed the politicized folk-rock with a complacent ruralized mid-tempo rock soon eclipsed their addled forebears, at least as judging by Henley and Frey! As in Walker's story, the ubiquitous Pamela Des Barres, the enigmatic Joni Mitchell, and the old timer Henry Diltz all recall their own escapades at length.
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