A lavish mixture of photos and prose by music historian and pop culture archivist Harvey Kubernik, Canyon of Dreams: The Magic and the Music of Laurel Canyon portrays a huge roster of iconic canyon dwellers and visitors, including David Crosby, James Taylor, and of course Joni Mitchell. To me and to many others, Mitchell is a goddess who towers over her peers like a redwood from her adopted California. In few individuals has the flame of art burned so brightly and with such a wide spectrum of hues. Among her magnificent legacy of songs is 1968's "Ladies of the Canyon," with its typically dense, poetic lyrics. Estrella Berosini (a "circus girl" for real) deconstructs the stanzas about her on Joni's website, as do the other two "ladies": Trina Robbins and Annie Burden. Here Estrella describes her first sight of Joni:
"It was like stepping from a pitch black room into the snow-blind white light of a crystal bright Canadian winterscape. I was stunned by the beauty of this absolutely foreign creature, who barely touched ground as she lightly clicked onto the vinyl tile kitchen floor. I locked on her face first; perfectly proportioned, perfect skin, immaculately clean, straight blonde hair and... OH MY GOD, WHAT WAS SHE WEARING?!? Her dress had stepped out of a renaissance painting, but was cut off just above the knee, and a loose, muted silver buckled belt hung below her waistline. Just like the paintings of royal ladies of old. She looked as though she stepped from the pages of The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy."
Joni Mitchell. Photo by Henry Diltz, 1971. From Rolling Stone (courtesy Morrison Hotel Gallery).
Former canyon denizens are also heavily featured in the fantastic CD/documentary package Carole King & James Taylor: Troubadours, a top-notch social/musical history of the folk-rock, singer-songwriter era.