L.A. music blog Aquarium Drunkard recently brought to my attention to a 2007 documentary done by the BBC that highlights the development of the Los Angeles music scene in the late 1960s. Hotel California: L.A. From the Byrds to the Eagles is currently available on Youtube, although I'm not entirely sure exactly how long that will last. In short, the film covers the early idealism of the country and folk-rock scene that emerged in Laurel Canyon, but which transformed into a corporate and money-driven scene in a relatively brief period of time.
I know what you're thinking after reading the title - "I hate the f***in' Eagles." Of course I can't argue about such an opinion. In fact, the documentary is very straightforward in presenting criticisms of the Eagles from a number of different musicians for their approach to music. Despite the title's mention of the Eagles, I should emphasize that the documentary covers a great deal of musicians before the Eagles, including Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young (in various groups and solo), the highly regarded Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Gram Parsons, and others. In the style of recent documentaries on Gram Parsons and Townes Van Zandt, the documentary makes great use of many of the musicians and industry folks who were involved in the scene at that time. The result is a film that thoroughly documents an extremely fascinating time in American music. And as I always try to mention when applicable, the video even contains a bit of a West Texas connection in featuring J.D. Souther, who was raised in Amarillo.
The film is currently available on youtube in 7 parts, starting with the one below: