Episode 15: Slouching Towards Bethlehem - Five Summers in Los Angeles


An impressionistic look at the interplay of Rock N Roll and Culture in Los Angeles during the latter half of the 1960s. There are familiar elements: storytelling, critical discussion and commentary, and lots of Rock N Roll attitude. But this one is different from most of our previous RNRAP offerings.

We draw inspiration from multiple sources, but the wellspring is a pair of books—two collections of essays by the California writer Joan Didion: “The White Album” and “Slouching Towards Bethlehem.”

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live,” asserts Ms Didion in the opening of “The White Album.” This is an entirely human and natural response; we try to make sense of things, to apply a narrative frame to a “shifting phantasmagoria of events.”

And it may even work—for a while. Ultimately though, no frame will fit. We are left with a chaotic collection of impressions, with a story that has no moral—and with a restless feeling that perhaps an opportunity was missed here.


Link to Spotify Playlist

The Ronettes: “Be My Baby” 1964

Bob Dylan: “Like A Rolling Stone” 1966

The Doors: “Peace Frog” 1969

The Byrds: “Turn! Turn! Turn!” 1966

Buffalo Springfield: “Broken Arrow” 1968

The Mamas and The Papas: “California Dreaming” 1966

Buffalo Springfield: “Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing” 1966

Buffalo Springfield: “Go And Say Goodbye” 1966

The Byrds: “Feel a Whole Lot Better” 1966

Buffalo Springfield: “Bluebird” 1967

Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention: “Hungry Freaks Daddy” 1966

Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention: “Trouble Every Day” 1966

The Chambers Brothers: “Time Has Come Today” 1966

Buffalo Springfield: “For What It’s Worth” 1966

The Monkees: “Theme From The Monkees” 1967

The Byrds: “Rock N Roll Star” 1967

The Doors: “Light My Fire” 1967

The Doors: “When The Music’s Over” 1967

The Doors: “When You’re Strange” 1967

Neil Young: “On The Way Home” 1968

Buffalo Springfield: “Rock N Roll Woman” 1967

The Doors: “Awake” 1967

The Doors: “Five To One” 1968

The Doors: “Alabama Song” 1967

Buffalo Springfield: “Special Care” 1968

The Beach Boys: “Sloop John B” 1966

Steppenwolf: “Magic Carpet Ride” 1968

The Beatles: “Baby You’re A Rich Man” 1967

The Doors: “Hello I Love You” 1968

The Doors: “Wild Child” 1968

The Doors: “Not To Touch The Earth” 1968

Crosby Stills & Nash: “You Don’t Have To Cry” 1969

The Flying Burrito Brothers: “Dark End Of The Street” 1969

The Doors: “Touch Me” 1968

Neil Young: “Revolution Blues” 1972

Neil Young: “Down By The River” 1969

Crosby Stills & Nash: “Long Time Gone” 1969

The Doors: “The End” 1967

The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;

Surely the Second Coming is at hand.

The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out

When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi

Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert

A shape with lion body and the head of a man,

A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,

Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it

Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again; but now I know

That twenty centuries of stony sleep

Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,

Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

--William Butler Yeats


Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry: Helter Skelter

Peter Ames Carlin: Catch a Wave: the Rise, Fall & Redemption of the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson

Nik Cohn: Awopbopaloobop! The Golden Age of Rock

Stephen Davis: Jim Morrison: Life, Death, Legend

John Densmore: Riders on the Storm

Joan Didion: The White Album

Joan Didion: Slouching Towards Bethlehem

John Einarson: For What It’s Worth

Todd Gitlin: The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage

Jimmy McDonough: Shakey: Neil Young’s Biography

James Douglas Morrison: The Lords And The New Creatures

Dominic Priore: Riot on Sunset Strip

Hunter Thompson: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Neil Young: Waging Heavy Peace

Frank Zappa: The Real Frank Zappa Book


When You’re Strange, Directed by Tom DiCillo, 2009


Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Directed by Terry Gilliam, 1998

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