…Life used to be so hard

Before the Spaniards arrived, Laurel Canyon was inhabited by the indigenous Tongva tribe, who enjoyed the use of a spring-fed stream that flowed there throughout the year.  That stream is what eventually attracted Mexican ranchers and when they’d been summarily “moved along” in the mid-19th Century, the Anglo settlers who were next on the scene began to talk in terms of water rights.

Soon after the dawning of the 20th Century an electric (trackless) trolley began to run from Sunset Boulevard to a roadhouse part way up the canyon, which by now was being subdivided into “mountain vacation” properties. Log cabins were especially popular at the time and, until the all-mighty automobile belched its way to the forefront, those that were built beyond the roadhouse were reached either by mule or by foot.  Some of the earliest cabins still exist, including the one owned by Silent film cowboy, Tom Mix (which was later owned by Frank Zappa) and, directly across the street, Harry Houdini’s cabin.

Of course, most of us know Laurel Canyon for the many (often bohemian) celebrities who reside or have resided there, most of them actors and musicians including: Mary Astor, Jim Morrison,David Carradine, Jackson Browne, Werner Herzog, Cass Elliot, Marilyn Manson,  Lead Belly, Eric Burdon, Jennifer Aniston, Timothy Leary, Clara Bow, Louise Brooks,  David Byrne, Canned Heat, Lon Chaney, Jr., George Clooney, Alice Cooper, Micky Dolenz, Fabian, Errol Flynn, Michael J. Fox, Glenn Frey, Greta Garbo, Jimi Hendrix, Boris Karloff, Carole King, k.d. lang, Jerry Lewis, Bela Lugosi,  Dean Martin, Steve Martin, Robert Mitchum,  Patty Duke, Gram Parsons, Iggy Pop, Keith Richards (actually both The Beatles and The Stones spent time in Laurel Canyon), Meg Ryan, Slash, Dusty Springfield, Justin Timberlake, Peter Tork, Orson Wells, Brian Wilson and if you’ve made it this far you get the picture.

Then, of course, there was Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young, Mitchell and Collins.

While Steven Stills had written “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” about his relationship with Judy Collins, which was featured on Crosby, Stills & Nash’s eponymous debut album in 1969 (hitting Number 29 on the Billboard Charts), Graham Nash wrote today’s selection in reference to his relationship with Joni Mitchell on Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s (technically) debut album, “Déjà Vu” in 1970 (hitting Number 30 on the Billboard Charts). This was while Mitchell was releasing her own (third) album, “Ladies of the Canyon.”

As Nash later recounted: “…once you walked into that front door, everything disappeared …and then I started to think, you know, God, that’s an incredibly domestic scene, you know, here we are, Joni Mitchell and Graham Nash, and I’m, you know, put flowers in the vase and light the fire… I love this woman, and this moment is a very grounded moment… I sat down at the piano and, an hour later, ‘Our House’ was done.”

LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Tuesday 5 June 

Our House

 I’ll light the fire

You place the flowers in the vase

That you bought today

 Staring at the fire

For hours and hours

While I listen to you

Play your love songs

All night long for me

Only for me

Come to me now

And rest your head for just five minutes

Everything is good

Such a cozy room

The windows are illuminated

By the evening sunshine through them

Fiery gems for you

Only for you

Our house is a very, very, very fine house

With two cats in the yard

Life used to be so hard

Now everything is easy

‘Cause of you

And our la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la…..

Our house is a very, very, very fine house

With two cats in the yard

Life used to be so hard

Now everything is easy

‘Cause of you

And our…

 I’ll light the fire

While you place the flowers in the vase

That you bought today.

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