The Rise of the Singer-Songwriter
#1
The real name of the documentary is actually "American Masters: Troubadours - Carole King/James Taylor & The Rise of the Singer-Songwriter." The thing is, most of it is not about Taylor or King. It is actually about the singer-songwriters who came out of the Los Angeles Music Scene in the 60s-70s era. Most of whom were not born in Los Angeles, but came here because the music scene here seemed better for them. But with Taylor and King being a big part of the presentation.

Much of this documentary covers the importance of a club called The Troubadour, which is where many of these people got discovered. For example, Elton John, who made a big splash there. Funny thing. I live here and I didn't realize a lot of what was covered in this documentary and the "Hotel California" one I posted about before. I'd been to the Troubadour, I realized it was the main place for acoustic music that was not true folk music, but never thought of it as a big deal. Maybe I should have.

Anyway, I remember James Taylor getting some bad press (for being gentle in his style), but I didn't realized one critic portrayed a dream (with pictures) where he kills James Taylor. Taylor said that back then, any time he saw an article about himself, he would avoid it.

I think this is the third documentary I've watched lately about the 60s-70s music scene in Los Angeles. I guess I like these because I was there, but didn't understand the importance of a lot of this.
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#2
Yeah, I love that kind of stuff where it's about a time and place you experienced. It would be the same for me if I saw something on LA music in the 80's.
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#3
Frankly, I am fascinated by any surviving musicians, rock or folk, of my era, especially because we are the same age. It is like looking in a weird mirror to see these lined, aging faces and remember "us" at the age when they were making music and I was grooving on it. I wonder if music is as important to young people now as it was to those of us who came up in the 60's.

I like the American Masters series. There is an excellent one on Paul Simon. There have also been a couple PBS programs recently on the origins of the folk music scene in New York's Village. One was on Bob Dylan specifically, the other on the scene in general. Equally fascinating to me as I was of the age to be deeply into folk music in the 50's.

I don't think we can ever realize the importance of our own era of music--we are just living it. Only later do we realize its importance in history. I saw James Taylor and Cat Stevens at the Troubadour, and that's just what we were doing. I saw Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, the Band, Frank Zappa, Canned Heat. I even saw Little Richard's at the Swing Club. In retrospect, the 60s was an amazing musical era.
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#4
I was watching another documentary about that era, and some of the musicians pointed out that there was more musical freedom. Everyone was experimenting, and record companies were entering uncharted territory, so they allowed for this. But later, when the record sales and concert proceeds started getting astronomical, then big business took more of an interest, and started trying to impose success formulas on the selection of artists. They said this narrowed the field a lot.

I guess I should have gone to the Troubadour more. The club I was at most was the Ash Grove. One interesting thing about Ash Grove was their phone book. I was in their office once, and it was sitting right out on the desk. I started reading it, and it was like a who's who of folk and blues players. Even had instructions on how to get hold of artists with no telephone. At the time I thought that some day it would make a great historical document.
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#5
Have you seen that doc about Sugar Man, or Search for Sugar Man? It's supposed to be really good about some folk singer who barely sold any records here but was like Bob Dylan in Australia (I believe) and the legends that surrounded the missing character.
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#6
I don't think I saw that, but I know of him. I think his enduring fame was in South Africa. Nice for him that he got rediscovered before he was dead.
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#7
I saw "Searching for Sugar Man" and it's not to be missed. He was kind of a street singer/songwriter from Detroit and his life lacked the glamor and hype that was a big part of the Bob Dylan mystique. His vision was profound, but did not fit anywhere. I also thought whoever produced his albums (all two of them) did a crummy job--just bad background music that didn't fit what he was doing at all. In some ways he had more of an effect on transforming culture because his music became part of the whole anti-apartheid movement in South Africa.

I love music documentaries. Another good one I saw recently is "Still Bill" about singer/songwriter Bill Withers. An interesting man with some very interesting things to say.
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#8
(08-09-2013, 02:09 AM)Andrew Wrote: I was watching another documentary about that era, and some of the musicians pointed out that there was more musical freedom. Everyone was experimenting, and record companies were entering uncharted territory, so they allowed for this. But later, when the record sales and concert proceeds started getting astronomical, then big business took more of an interest, and started trying to impose success formulas on the selection of artists. They said this narrowed the field a lot.

I guess I should have gone to the Troubadour more. The club I was at most was the Ash Grove. One interesting thing about Ash Grove was their phone book. I was in their office once, and it was sitting right out on the desk. I started reading it, and it was like a who's who of folk and blues players. Even had instructions on how to get hold of artists with no telephone. At the time I thought that some day it would make a great historical document.

That address book should be in the Smithsonian!! What a fantastic historical document!! The Ash Grove was the place to go for authentic folk music--it was the cutting edge for the real deal. I saw the Georgia Sea Island Singers there, Son House, the Staple Singers, Brownie and Sonny.... Who do you remember seeing there?

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#9
(08-10-2013, 04:20 PM)Moonbeam Wrote: Who do you remember seeing there?

Gad, I don't know. It's a blur. I guess what stands out for me the most was Rambling Jack Elliot, because he came up and talked to me in the lobby. Very friendly guy. I learned latter that he just liked meeting people. I think Roger Miller showed up to support him. Sang a few songs too. Or I could be mixed up. I saw Bessie Griffin, a gospel singer. Jim Kweskin Band. Taj Mahal. Long Gone Miles, who had a fantastic voice but no sense of where the beat was. Now that I'm thinking about it, they had non-folky people there too, like Janis Ian.

Might have seen Odeda, Brownie and Sonny, Lightning Hopkins, but maybe I saw them elsewhere. Remember those block parties in Santa Monica where all the folk and blues people showed up? Bess Hawes was a host there, I think. I might have seen them there instead.

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#10
(08-11-2013, 12:03 PM)Andrew Wrote: Gad, I don't know. It's a blur. I guess what stands out for me the most was Rambling Jack Elliot, because he came up and talked to me in the lobby. Very friendly guy. I learned latter that he just liked meeting people. I think Roger Miller showed up to support him. Sang a few songs too. Or I could be mixed up. I saw Bessie Griffin, a gospel singer. Jim Kweskin Band. Taj Mahal. Long Gone Miles, who had a fantastic voice but no sense of where the beat was. Now that I'm thinking about it, they had non-folky people there too, like Janis Ian.

Might have seen Odeda, Brownie and Sonny, Lightning Hopkins, but maybe I saw them elsewhere. Remember those block parties in Santa Monica where all the folk and blues people showed up? Bess Hawes was a host there, I think. I might have seen them there instead.

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