"Smells Like Laurel Canyon" - part 1

"Smells Like Laurel Canyon"...one dood's inquisition into whether or not the "Seattle grunge" scene was a fabricated counterculture movement...not unlike the 1960s & the Laurel Canyon scene that sparked the Hippie counterculture...


Please allow me to preface this here tale...

I fuck'n love Seattle!, Grunge music, & 'Merica.  Ok, I don't know what 'Merica has to do with things...but I can't pass up an opportunity to speak of "freedom".  On the other note, Seattle and "grunge rock"...big fans to this day!  That being said...this posting seems very apropos for the current climate of "Seattle grunge rock" with the recent & unexpected passing of perennial Seattle powerhouse, "Soundgarden", lead singer Chris Cornell. 


Real world here folks of the interwebs, I completed the authorship of this here introductory segment on the night prior to Cornell's death...completing this post circa the time he completed his final performance, which occurred at the Fox Theater in Detroit.  In fact...I recall waking my wife up as I went to bed, in the excitement to share with her that I completed my introduction to this tale. In that conversation, I specifically mentioned numerous points relative to Chris Cornell in this "Seattle Grunge" tale...Chris Cornell was the last topic of conversation as I drifted off into a slumber. 


My wake up call the following AM, my wife asking me "Guess, who died last night?". Now, some claim i have a morbid sense of humor....but not even I am willing to play that game, at least not before my first cup of coffee.  So after taking a quick inventory of my extremities and appendages...I replied, "You got me, who?"....she replied, "Chris Cornell"....(cue dark ominous music)....RIP Christopher John Boyle, aka. Chris Cornell.

What if "grunge rock" was not as it appears? That apparent perception being an organic counterculture movement filled with establishment opposition, topped with a froathy Seattle size dollop of milk foam to go along with the double shot of teenage angst. What if "Seattle Grunge" rock appears to share similarities to other counterculture movements?

So I pose you this one question there consumer of this dood's thoughts transcribed to this here interwebs posting...perhaps the "grunge" music scene was as in-organic, as alleged by some folks, in reference to the 1960s counterculture hippie movement??

(Hmmmm...hippies & "grunge" rockers, fundamentally similar in appearance...baggy, tattered clothing, long hair, completely "alien" to "middle 'Merica"....the similarities, hmmm, weird....)

"Smells Like Laurel Canyon"

A great man once traversed the landscapes of southern California...he went by the name of Dave McGowan...the author of this amazing book, link below, and inspiration for this journey...




Hi, my name is Double J...and I am a Dave McGowan super-fan!


It was 3 years ago when I discovered this man's work, and I have been enjoying every book, article, blog, and interview he has conducted. Sadly, Dave McGowan, appears to have passed away, from what he described on his own accord as an aggressive form of cancer, before he could fully realize the impact of his writings. It seems Dave McGowan barely survived long enough to see his most magnificent writing, the one that would be his legacy, come to inspire so many people.


This dood...uhhh, Double J here...is one of those inspired people...(but a quick search of the ol Google will yield dozens of other greatly inspired individuals that also found Dave McGowan's work to be so powerful!)


Dave McGowan offered a profound understanding of a tumultuous time in 'Merica...perhaps he is even responsible for completely reframing our contemporary understanding of the 1960s counterculture. It is expressly thanks to Dave McGowan that we, as a society, have a greater understanding of the 60s counterculture, those "evil" hippies, and most notably the Laurel Canyon scene. 


Once again, Dave McGowan superfan here...after listening to every interview I could my hands on, then I had a moment of clarity.  Dave McGowan offered such a unique perspective on this era of the 1960s, it's culture, & music BECAUSE he was a super-fan. He was a self proclaimed hippie born a decade too late. While I can certainly relate to Dave McGowan's notion of being born in the wrong decade...it dawned on me that it was the fact that he was a super-fan of the 1960s counterculture that gave him the ability to provide the world a unique perspective of the era known here in good ol 'Merica, simply as the "60s".


It was roughly at this point, listening to a Dave McGowan interview, where it dawned on me that 90s grunge was to Double J, as 60s hippie culture was to Dave McGowan.


So folks of the interwebs...what if Dave McGowan was correct? What if Dave McGowan's concepts of understanding from 60s Laurel Canyon rock scene can be applied to the 90s "Seattle grunge" rock scene? 


Can we see the same patterns evolving out of the cultural icons of the "Seattle Grunge" scene of the early 1990s, the same patterns Dave McGowan points out in his "Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon"?


In order to kick this series off the right way...lets first identify a list of concepts...as established by DM in his "Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon"...a few salient characteristics, if you will...

1. Sons & daughters of the "military/intelligence complex"??...Check, "seattle Grunge" has it!

2. Sons & Daughters of 'Merica's "blue bloods"??...Check, got it!

3. A history between "rockers" before the scene? E.g. Jim Morrison went to Kindergarten with Frank Zappa's wife...Yuup, Seattle's got it!

4. Skull & Bones connections? Only, Hell yea!

5. Anomalous deaths of rockstars? In spades...

6. Serial Killer? What music scene doesn't have a good slasher running around?? Laurel Canyon had Charlie Manson...Seattle the Green River Killer

7. Wrecking Crew? Got it!...the sons & daughters of the Wrecking Crew in Seattle, does that work for ya Johnny??

8. Special forces commandos?...You better believe it toots! Laurel Canyon had self-proclaimed commando, Steven Stills...Seattle has that beat!

9. Young Hollywood stars promoting the new Hippie scene, aka "the Young Turks"?  Seattle has the "younger turks" on the scene to promote and pander "Grunge" to the masses...

10. The "occult"!!!


Well, folks of the interwebs...that is a healthy list of characteristics to compare from the 1960s-Laurel Canyon-Hippie Scene to the 1990s-Seattle-Grunge scene...