LA’s Musical History: The Exhibit

A new Grammy Museum show delves into three decades of tunes and tales.

Grammy Museum

Our city is extraordinary on many counts, but one of its most unusual traits is the fact that so many people come here solely to make art, whatever their version of art might be. Think a song or a movie. Maybe the board the LA bus to form a band or write a book.

Of course, that wonderful fact can make things slightly tangly when it comes to picking out art forms that have grown organically in Los Angeles versus those that arrived from elsewhere and got to growing. Or is there a difference? Cultural scholars, have at that one.

"Trouble in Paradise: Music and Los Angeles, 1945-1975," which just opened at the Grammy Museum, explores the bards and ballads that evolved here and ultimately defined a rather raucous period in our city's creative scene. Okay, perhaps there was a week or two in 1952 that wasn't particularly raucous, but one can't argue that the late '60s, with its Jim Morrisons and its general unrest and its envelope-pushing, didn't change the world of music, and the world itself, forever.

The exhibit is part of Pacific Standard Time, the multi-month, multi-museum art spectacular that's putting a mid-century Los Angeles and all of its artistic flowerings under the microscope.

Doors-esque musings will share space with the Chicano stars and hard-guitar surf rockers and the Laurel Canyon folksters and all of that beautiful jazz that rolled along Central Avenue. It's rather remarkable, really, to think of all the movements, stars, and sounds that came to prominence in those three decades, right here. It is our music. It wasn't imported, but planted and tended here in LA.

The exhibit is on through June 3.

Last question: Were the Laurel Canyon folk stars, with their devotion to ferreting out deep meanings and wider truths, the first emo artists? Discuss.

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