Waiting for the Sunby Barney Hoskyns
Here is the entire history of pop Los Angeles in all its splendor and excess. The shadow land of expectation; the dazzling white-hot spotlight. No city in the western world exerts such a fascination as the damned paradise of Los Angeles. Barney Hoskyns has spent the better half of a decade researching this definitive account of a dysfunctional artistic community. From… See more details below
Here is the entire history of pop Los Angeles in all its splendor and excess. The shadow land of expectation; the dazzling white-hot spotlight. No city in the western world exerts such a fascination as the damned paradise of Los Angeles. Barney Hoskyns has spent the better half of a decade researching this definitive account of a dysfunctional artistic community. From the days of the thriving jazz clubs in the forties to the menace of West Coast gangsta rap in the nineties, the sound of this bleached, irrigated dreamscape is here in all its warped glory. Hoskyns journeys through fifty years of music history to unravel its unrealities. The result is a riveting account of, as he writes, "the peculiarly California interplay between light and darkness, good and evil." He explores the two-faced nature of Orpheus' brain-children: innocence and sin, fantasy and reality. California, even in its most profound sense, conjures up fantasy: vast geographical distances, sun, smog, and hedonism all conveniently huddled on the Pacific Coast. But underneath all this suntan lotion and the sizzling backyard barbies lies a nervous creative energy and downright weirdness that manufactures and promotes the fantasy in musical forms catering to heartland America. The music of Southern California has kept us all waiting for the sun.
Having interviewed many of the major players, British author Hoskyns (Across the Great Divide: The Band and America, 1993) ambitiously aims to make sense of the careers of every notable musician ever to spend time in L.A., in the context of the city's ethnic and geographical cultures, the L.A.-based record companies' differing sensibilities, the cultural currents their records both spawned and reflected, and especially the pattern of monstrous self-indulgence that seemingly few L.A. musicians have evaded. The pre-rock era is covered fairly perfunctorily, but Hoskyns begins to shine with early '60s tales of hack songwriters, calculating record companies, and motley unaffiliated hustlers all angling to produce a Top 40 hit. Hoskyns notes that there's as much image manipulation in pop as in the movies. The Beach Boys created the myth of southern California as endless beach party, but, in Hoskyns's typically pithy characterization, leader Brian Wilson was "an all-American misfit . . . a gawky, introspective geek" who'd never surfed. The all-white Hollywood hit-makers could afford to be oblivious to the Watts riots, even as they came to represent the "counterculture." A countrified pop mafia (David Crosby, Cass Elliott, Neil Young, etc.) based in L.A.'s outer canyons grew up in the late '60s, but the hippie idealism of life away from Hollywood had a dark flip side, exemplified by the Manson Family and a series of self-destructions from drugs. Hoskyns acerbically registers the irony that the staggeringly successful mellow L.A. pop of the '70sby such artists as the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, and Fleetwood Macwas created in a milieu ruled by two supremely unmellow forces: cocaine and workaholic mogul David Geffen.
Though occasionally marred by mean spirits, this is an unusually lively, provocative study.
- Roy Bloom Bargain
- Publication date:
What People are saying about this
Jon Savage, author of England's Dreaming
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >