Hotel California: Singer-Songwriters and Cocaine Cowboys in the La Canyons, 1967-1976
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Hotel California: Singer-Songwriters and Cocaine Cowboys in the La Canyons, 1967-1976

3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  533 ratings  ·  71 reviews
This book is a remarkable look at one of the most dramatic, creative, and revolutionary settings in American popular culture: the Los Angeles popular music scene from the late 1960s to the late 1970s. Drawing on extraordinarily candid firsthand interviews Barney Hoskyns has conducted over more than three decades, Hotel California takes you on an intimate tour—from the Suns...more
Paperback, 316 pages
Published July 1st 2007 by Harper Perennial (first published November 7th 2005)
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To quote the author, this book is "an epic tale of songs and sunshine, drugs and denim, genius and greed". Barney Hoskyns takes us on the "rise and fall" trip of the Southern California singer-songwriter movement in pop music in the late 60's to the mid 70's when stadium rock, big money and coke destroyed the music I loved. Very detailed and readable history of this unique musical journey from the pioneering Byrds, Mama's & Pappa's to CSNY, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Linda Ronstadt, Jackso...more
Certainly full of interesting facts, but suffers from too many of them. The cast of characters is huge and unwieldy, with many people doing what I felt were unnecessary walk-ons. The writing was magazine-like with extra trivia shoehorned in. I enjoyed parts of it very much, especially how songs came to be written. On the whole, though, I can't recommend it to anyone but the stone Laurel Canyon junkie.
Um, this was not good. No real insight OR fun gossip, and no real sense of why these artists mattered. I love me some classic rock, and I'm interested in how folk music fed into pop to truly help define what "rock" became in the 1970s...but this was just an unfocused, boring mess.
Jason Coleman
I understand why it frustrates some people, but this is a decent book. The author has done a ton of research: if you were in Laurel Canyon in 1968-71 and Hoskyns didn't interview you, it probably means you are dead. He has digested the music itself and, in addition to all the milestones, champions several obscure works. His quick portraits are instinctive and convincing. And I like the trajectory he depicts: beginning with a truly vital scene that included the Byrds, Burritos, and Buffalo Spring...more
Ethan Miller
Not the deeply satisfying and more sensational reads of "Shakey" or "Long time Gone" but still an interesting read and a broader scope. For those of us who did not live through the late 60's and 70's and did not experience the music happening out of the LA area in a linear way this book puts that in perspective nicely. History has kind of judged and divided these troubadours into our sacred cow artists like Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, the soft rock stadium sell outs like The Eagles and Linda R...more
Hoskyn's book, in the edition that I have is subtitled "Singer Songwriters and Cocaine Cowboys in the L.A. Canyons, 1967-1976." This book covers the intersection of both subtitles. It centers on the Laurel Canyon scene in L.A. in the 60s and early 70s. There is a lot on CSNY and the Eagles, and Jackson Browne, and lesser but still fairly decent chunks on Joni Mitchell, David Geffen/Elliot Roberts/Asylum, the Troubador, The Roxy, Buffalo Springfield, and Gene Clark. Honestly, I am still not sure...more
The time: mid 60's to late 70's
The place: Los Angeles, California, specifically the Laurel Canyon (and beyond) music scene.

Barney Hoskyns is a writer, editor and British music critic, who ushers us through a rise and fall era in the California musical scene.

Behind the songs we loved, we're given an informative look at a myriad of relationships (both professional and personal).
We're given snapshots of the singer/songwriters with their backgrounds, their personalities, their genius, their quirks.

Gossipy and fully deserving of a summer "beach read" even though I read it in my office on lunch hours. It kept my interest because this is the soundtrack of my high school and college years, but unfortunately the book needed some serious editing. The handful of typos I saw were distracting. On the other hand, when people talk about all the artists Joni Mitchell slept with, at least now I'll know who they were. I didn't pick it up because I knew it'd be fine literature.
This has thorough research and does capture the time and place in that part of L.A. to a T.
I opened this book looking for information about the late singer, Judee Sill, and was drawn into Hoskyns' narrative about how many of these idealistic folkies of the 60's became big, bloated, spoiled, and egotistical cokeheads in the 70's and 80's.
Jim Colbert
While I enjoyed reading the content, I was annoyed that the iBook version includes neither a functional index nor photographs. Well researched, just a ripoff that a full price book purchased for my iPad didn't have content other versions do.
I can't explain why I'm always drawn to this era of music, and am always reading about it. I think it's neat to learn the stories behind the songs. There was lots of boring stuff in there also.
The late 60s and early 70s were the halcyon days for the singer-songwriter in LA.
David Geffen hadn't revealed himself to be the money grabbing businessman we know and love today, drugs were fresh and exciting and record labels allowed their artists time to develop and grow (for our younger readers, this was known as a 'career' - something that was meant to last longer than one series of X Factor).
It should be a fascinating time in music history, making for a fascinating read.
But it doesn't.
It began in the late 1960s in a bohemian, artistic enclave in the canyons near Los Angeles. It spawned the singer-songwriter era of rock music and produced what would be called "the Southern California sound" and "country rock." It essentially ended in the 1970s as commercial success and millionaire lifestyles led to the disintegration of an edifice symbolized by "Hotel California."[return][return]That song title also serves befittingly as the title of Barney Hoskyns' exploration of that era. Wh...more
Kathleen Hagen
Hotel California: The True Life Adventures of Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young, Mitchell, Taylor, Brown, Ronstad, Dessen, The Eagles, and their Many Friends, by Barney Hoskyns, Borrowed from the Library of Congress National Library for the Blind, Talking Book.

This is a wonderfully gossipy book by a British music journalist who takes us on a tour of some of the music of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, in particular, from the groups and people named in the title, and spanning the years from about 1965 to 1980. Wi...more
Aug 11, 2012 Daisy rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who really know the songs of this era
from the preface: As Tom Waits ... puts it: "The trouble with history is that the people who really know what happened aren't talking and the people who don't ... well, you can't shut 'em up."

complementary--going through this and Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk at the same time

Nostalgic. This was never my favorite kind of music, but it is interesting when a certain place calls kindred souls to gather. I wish there were a Laurel Canyon map-of-the-stars although many of the ori...more
Jeff Tucker
This book started me on a quest to read as many books as I could find on the singer/songwriters of the 60's and 70's. The book cronicles a time when the musical icons of this era were living in Laurel canyon in LA. They were hanging out together, dating each other and writing songs about it all. They spent their nights playing and listening to each other at the Troubadour. I loved the book and I was sorry when it ended. After you read the book, you should go to a web-site called "
I love the gossipy bits about the canyon, the artists, etc. but there is so much to wade through to get there!
Not the first book I've read which covered the LA music scene in the 60s and 70s, but definitely the worst. I can't say that it was inaccurate but it was a mean-spirited downer and in the pieces that I knew something about, I was able to find some errors - which brought much of this into question. I remember Laurel Canyon: The Inside Story of Rock-and-Roll's Legendary Neighborhood by Michael Walker as being a much better read. And Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon--and the J...more
I generally love reading about anything having to do with musicians. But overall, this book was less about the musicians and more focused on the music "business", those who felt they were responsible for "making" the artists of this era, in spite of having to deal with the artists' debauchery, drug addiction and ego-mania. it was very disjointed and jumbled, often jumping from one thought to the next seemingly without much connection. I got a much better feel for this place and time from reading...more
Melissa Barry
Love the background of the Canyon and these magical singer songwriters
I don't agree with a lot of the criticisms of this book, that it feels like a magazine article etc or very 'bitty'.

Hoskyns has clearly researched his subject, Laurel Canyon in the late 60s and early 70s and has interviewed and included anyone and everyone of note. And for that reason this makes more of a complete story, one that doesn't focus on any one artist for long but paints a wonderful picture of the time and place nonetheless
Carlos Repuestodelatabla
"Thoroughly researched" would be an understatement. A close look at an unusual scene, probably more of a scene than we thought. Not a lot of wonderful or charismatic people - Neil Young comes off best - and a lot of time is spent, perhaps justifiably, on Jackson Browne, but it makes one realise how much songwriting was at the centre of all this. Hoskins is a fine writer and this could hardly be bettered as a history.
Really gives you a good look at both the professional and the personal lives of everybody. It's always interesting and informative and good to learn more about different cultures, but neither the business nor the lifestyle is at all appealing to me, so although it is a good book, it's just not that much fun to read about unhappy people. Spend the whole day feeling sorry for them--even during their good times.
Barney got this one right. An exciting page turner with all the right details about all the right artists. The flow was exceptional and the period of music was wrapped up exceptionally. A must read for anyone born in the sixties because you were raised on this music and the stories behind the music are as exciting as the artists and what they created in the late sixties and 1970s.
Michael D
The hippies go to hell. Excellent account of the coke-fuelled 70's Californian singer/songwriter scene. What a bunch of assholes! Jackson Browne is one of the few to emerge with his honour intact - most of the others come across as ridiculous, self-obsessed brats. Hoskyns, as always, covers the ground very well and writes superbly. One of the better music books out there for sure.
Chris Gager
Pretty sure I read this about 5-10 years ago. Didn't stickin my memory very well since I just now remembered it and had to do some searching to get the title. Lots of LA stories including peripheral stuff about a favorite band of mine, Spirit, who lived in Topanga and encountered Charlie Manson. Manson was a hanger on at the time trying to sell songs. Date read is a guess.
Nov 02, 2007 Helen rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who love the California country/rock/singer-songwriter's of the 70's
I worked in record shops during high school and college, I grew-up on this music. I still feel that these artist's made the best music ever pressed to vinyl (yeah I said vinyl). I still can't believe John Hall is a congressmen now :)- who would have thunk :). Springsteen sang about glory days, for me that is what this era of music was and still is.Long may the music run.
Hoskyns' infatuation with the mythic culture of southern California in the 60s and 70s is evident in his depiction of the people and circumstances that produced much of the best music of those years. He describes an era of magic and gives detailed background to the rise of singer/songwriters, revealing their vulnerability to the evolving culture.
Tom Higley
Still in process here. But I graduated from high school in 1972. Everything in the first couple of chapters reads like what I remember from the late sixties and early seventies. And this book is talking about the folks that walked on water: Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor . . . and more.
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