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Laurel Canyon Fantasy

Laurel Canyon TextL.A., mid-1960s: Like many young people, Juno has come to California in search of rock ’n’ roll and herself. Unlike anyone else she knows, though, Juno is a witch. Surrounded by beautiful, talented new friends, she soon starts using her magic powers to win love and respect. Band members are pitted against each other, fancy guitar solos play themselves, folks find that they can’t help messing up everything from romance to crowd control… But, as Juno was told on the day she came of magic age back in Canada, there is a price to pay for altering the course of things. Particularly, it turns out, for almost ruining rock ‘n’ roll. How long until everything comes crashing down around her ears?

Peace n Love Grey Back

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Less than one week later and just when Juno thought she’d reached breaking point, Jackson returned to LA. He had the look of a guy who’d been abducted by crackhead aliens, and was clearly glad to be back. Juno was ecstatic.

Things got easier for almost everyone from then on. The dope was superb, gigs passed without incident, folks braided their hair and felt grounded. The canyon settled into an easy sun-kissed groove. No wonder they called those months in ’67 the Summer of Love.

 

Well, almost everybody felt easier from then on. David didn’t. He was too far gone on his trip, which often took him to San Francisco these days. He’d clearly found some new kind of perspective, and a new subject to talk about, in how great the Bay Area scene was and how LA bands were starting to get complacent and lag behind. It was clear that he mainly meant his own band, and that he blamed Jim for the lagging. Folks weren’t inclined to listen any longer than couldn’t be avoided, particularly Jim, who felt moved to speak to Juno the first time in years one night in the Troub, advising her what a pain in the butt David was. Juno felt moved to defend him. David still adored her songs and was her friend.

Another guy who didn’t dig the groove was Stephen. He took up the plaguing of Neil where Juno’d left off, which became more apparent at every gig. He turned off a great many other folks, too, with his often gruff and puffed-up ways.

But it was the Summer of Love, and against all odds and to the total amazement of everyone, Stephen and David became friends.

 

In June the whole of West LA decamped up the coast for something really different: a weekend-long music festival at Monterey. It was billed as a meeting between the Northern and Southern California scenes.

Juno and Jackson got a ride north with Billy and his wife Judy, joining the long convoy of cars that snaked its way along the coast road. It was like being aboard a fantastic colourful musical train. People were ready for great things, and the sound of bongos, harps or guitars came from nearly every open top and painted VW van.

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It remained that way for their entire first set. They did the usual standards together and Chuck sang backup on The Circle Game and Michael From Mountains, but there wasn’t much in-between chat. Nobody in the happy room seemed to mind.

Joni and Chuck spent their break talking to different people at opposite ends of the bar, and after half an hour reunited on the stage. Ry sipped his coke while Juno still hoped for a new song.

She didn’t get one, and Joni hadn’t even done Juno’s favourite when the couple took their final bows. ‘Mooore!’ cried the whole audience. Chuck wasn’t moving, but Joni picked up her guitar again and strummed a few chords. ‘No, not that one,’ Juno saw Chuck mouth. When Joni didn’t stop he left the stage.

Juno got her favourite song. While it didn’t go with the season something told her it might be fitting all the same. Joni sang about summertime being over and getting the urge for going as Chuck and his guitar flew into the spring night.

Minutes later Joni was shutting her case when another tall and real handsome dark-haired guy in a black polo neck rushed in through the door as fast as Chuck had left. He made his way to Joni, who was standing near Ry’s chair. ‘Oh, man, sorry I missed you guys,’ panted the newcomer and kissed Joni on the cheek. ‘Been in the studio all day.’ He looked around. ‘Chuck gone?’

‘Yeah… Hi Tom,’ said Joni. Her voice sounded strained. She gave Tom a little smile. ‘So, how you been getting on in the studio?’

‘Oh, you gotta listen to this!’ Tom pulled a tape from his shoulder bag. ‘Not mine, they’re demo tracks. Got them from this guy I know at Electra. There’s a song on here I’m definitely gonna cut. Shadow Dream Song, it’s called.’ Ry spluttered a mouthful of coke all over himself while Juno’s mind spun into freefall. ‘Guy from LA,’ continued Tom unconcerned. ‘Guy called Jackson Browne.’

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That night Juno visited the place with the silver walls again. There was another party. Strange people were converging on Jackson in the harsh light as usual. The droning music was louder than ever. Coke was everywhere.

The band stopped and the blonde girl took the mike. Her name was Nico. She could’ve been Joni’s older sister. She beckoned Jackson to join her. He walked up to her unsteadily, all eyes following him. He picked up a guitar. They sang Jackson’s song again, These Days. As her dark voice rang out Jackson fingered a strand of his soft hair.

She seized his hand and pulled him with her through the sea of faces to the lift. The doors opened and they stepped inside. The ashen-haired guy joined them and watched through his large shades as she sank to her knees before Jackson. The doors closed.

Juno would’ve given anything for a sleeping nightmare.

 

Joni stayed in the US this time. After Philadelphia she and her husband moved on to a club called The Living End in Detroit, and then to Cambridge, Massachusetts.

One balmy night in late April Juno, who’d been keeping basic track of them in her crystal ball, decided to go see in person what they were up to and where they were headed. Another song or two would come in handy, too.

The audience consisted mainly of students. Everybody seemed in a good mood, and the smell of cut grass and new departures blew in on the breeze every time the door opened. Candles flickered excitedly on the tables.

From his seat right up front Ry watched Joni and Chuck settle onto the stage. Somehow it took them a long time. They had two high stools to sit on, and kept on shifting them back and forth and adjusting their guitar straps. Juno couldn’t help feeling they were kind of shifting and adjusting around each other. They weren’t talking a lot.

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Their leader spotted Mick and Juno on the porch and skidded to a halt. Within moments they were facing a sea of bikers. Another couple moments and the engines were off.

‘Hey, you,’ the head Angel called to Mick. ‘Think you’re hard, huh? A Stone, huh?’ He got off of his bike.

‘U-oh,’ Mick said under his breath. ‘What we going to do with these cats?’

Juno’d got no clear idea what her mind was coming up with, but before she knew it she’d said, ‘Don’t you worry, they’re pussycats!’ She turned to the Angels. ‘Guys, we’re just gonna do some meditating. You joining in?’

One blanket spell later and with a chorus of appreciative muttering the Angels were filing in orderly fashion onto Cass’s lawn. They sat down in neat rows, their legs tucked in. ‘Lead on,’ chirped Juno to Mick, who was rooted to the spot.

‘Erm,’ said he, kneading his lips between his fingers. ‘Right…’

He crept to the head of the hushed gang of bikers as if on eggshells. Juno strolled along after him. Mick managed to position himself on the ground, but once confronted by the rows of solemn expressions in black leather faith seemed to desert him. Juno, who’d sat down beside him, decided to get the show on the road. She put her hands together and raised them over her head. The Angels copied her like puppets on invisible strings.

‘Ohm,’ went Juno.

‘Ohhmmmmm,’ boomed many deep voices around Cass’s yard. Juno made sure they couldn’t be heard in the house. She didn’t want any interruptions.

She went on to drive the Angels into a blissed trance. ‘Peace, man,’ or ‘Hallelujah!’ cried one or another of them periodically while they all rocked back and forth with cherubic smiles on their faces.

Mick was awestruck, and not meditating one bit.

Afterwards they all came over to shake his hand. ‘God bless ya,’ sighed a couple of them, and the head Angel said, ‘You stay away from that devil’s music, son!’

They got back on their bikes, and off into the sunset they rode.

‘Gosh,’ said Mick, staring at the turn in the road ’round which they’d disappeared. ‘This whole peace-and-love shit is starting to make me want to puke!’

She didn’t know it, but all this Magic had Juno change the course of rock ’n’ roll.

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Juno had one hell of a lotta Magic on in the spring of ’67. She had to vet her audience, keep Horace on the ship, monitor everyone’s tour schedules, and now that Jackson was gone she also needed to feed the cats and maintain tabs on him and Joni. Luckily Joni spent most of her time back in Canada right then. The closest she got to NY City was Philadelphia. Just to be on the safe side Juno put a Laurel Canyon zone alert around Joni, so she’d be notified if the two worlds were in danger of colliding.

 

All this Magic had Juno on a roll. Without Jackson for company she began to amuse herself by causing gratuitous havoc. She pretty much tormented Neil now, and soon Stephen into the bargain. On top of Neil’s regular troubles both guys’ lives seemed to consist of nothing but flat tyres, emoting chicks, bum trips, exploding amps and undercooked dinners. No wonder the rifles and tomahawks were out.

But their plight was as nothing compared to Juno’s every time she paid a flying visit to New York. Jackson was in trouble, and while she fretted over what to do she vented her anguish on everyone crossing her path. The luminaries of her scene were her own private show during that volatile spring. Nonstop obstacles were encountered by everyone, folks kept on ending up places they weren’t supposed to be, and stages were positively dangerous to set foot on. Before long the Mamas and Papas’ last rest of domestic harmony was in tatters and the Turtles had lost half their members, while David just couldn’t seem to get along with anyone anymore.

After all that what she did to Mick Jagger seemed harmless. She ran into him on Cass’s porch one long Sunday. She was on her way in when the fly screen opened and out stepped the Rolling Stone himself. Juno’d seen him around a couple times before as the Stones now often recorded in LA, but they’d never been introduced.

Mick took in her statuesque figure and her long golden mane. He clearly liked what he was seeing.

‘Hello,’ he said. ‘I was just about to…’ – he scanned Juno’s mock-Victorian flowery dress and crystal pendants – ‘… do my meditation. Care to join me?’

‘Sure,’ said Juno. She’d been to New York that morning, and her mind was racing to dredge up some mischief when a noise like a whole bunch of Ferraris roared up the hill.

It was a whole bunch of Hell’s Angels.

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The summer lasted and lasted. Another band called The Doors caused a stir at the Whisky. They only played the club a couple weeks, rotating top billing with the Springfield, before being fired for the singer sharing his x-rated feelings for his mother onstage. But not before being signed, obviously. Record companies seemed to have taken the Californian weather to heart, smiling on the righteous and the bold, on natives and settlers, old hands and newcomers alike.

This particular record company was Electra. They’d missed out on the Byrds and the Springfield and were recruiting on all fronts now. Billy the Columbia guy became Billy the Electra guy in the fall. This could only be good news for Jackson, who was pretty much living in Billy’s house in the canyon full time and the favourite among all the hungry guests. The piano on Lookout Mountain got played every day.

Soon it looked like both guys’ efforts were paying off. Jackson had written dozens of songs by now, and got to demo most of them for Electra in the new year. But all that happened was that Buffalo Springfield had their first top ten hit. For What It’s Worth caught imaginations all over the country, being a response to the LAPD’s attempted crushing of the growing anti-war vibe among the long-hairs on the Strip. There were half a million marines in Vietnam now, and nearly everyone you talked to knew someone who’d been killed.

Jackson wasn’t crushed at the continuing lack of a deal, but he seemed close.

‘I’m splitting,’ he said to Juno one morning in March. They were dangling their feet over the edge of her porch, watching Ezz and Tomson hunting birds.

‘Whatcha mean?’ asked Juno.

‘I’m going to New York. Me and Greg. It ain’t happening for us here.’

Juno was mortified, and yet more shocked to realize it was the fear of missing Jackson that scared her no end worse than the danger of him running into Joni.

She knew she didn’t want to stop him or make a record deal appear out of lumpy air. All she could do was watch. And keep watch.

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The summer of ’66 was a whirlwind of music, wild car rides up and down canyons, nude thrashing-about in and outside of pools, dream chasers and catchers, reviling of Lyndon Johnson, sprouting hair and large joints.

Juno’s house was always open, but then so was everyone else’s and sometimes she didn’t see her new home for whole weeks. Often she’d get back to find Jackson at the piano. He’d just left a band he’d briefly been in with some of the guys from McCabe’s. Although he partied with the best of them he was good at making time to write songs, which he had to do without the companionship of a band or the cocoon of a studio. And, save the odd couple bucks from a small-time publishing deal, without money. He wasn’t good at making that. He was still only seventeen, but sometimes it seemed he remained the only one of the old Troub gang without a record deal.

Juno knew why that was. His songs were beautiful, no doubt, but when Jackson sang the hairs on the back of her neck curled and tickled her in expectancy rather than rose, and the air became porous and lumpy with promise. He wasn’t quite there yet, and Juno longed for the day when he would be.

Buffalo Springfield and the Byrds on the other hand definitely were. That hot Southern Californian summer belonged to them. The Byrds’ new album, Fifth Dimension, was released in July. On parts of 5D the band left the eight-mile mark way below them. It didn’t storm the charts like their previous offerings had, didn’t even make the top twenty, but was locally seen as totally different and experimental. Psychedelic was the word. Among their peers the Byrds were untainted heroes now.

The Springfield got a deal almost immediately. Their first single, Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing, came hot on the heels of 5D. It didn’t make waves outside LA, but thanks to it and their number one fan Chris the band landed a long stint at the Whisky A Go Go on the Strip. They were the sound of the summer to the old Troub gang, even if the tension between Neil and Stephen was clearly about more than twelve strings.

Neil had other problems, too, to battle that summer. Whenever Juno sang she’d first consult her crystal ball, and if it looked like he was even close she’d intervene. West LA became a maze he was forever getting lost in, Angelenos on the whole antagonized him to the brink of his frail health, and the LAPD seemed to have it in expressly for him. All in all he came to see the city as one hell of a drag. So far, so good.

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A new band called The Buffalo Springfield was billed to play. When the five members hit the stage the reaction they drew from the crowd was mixed, even though they hadn’t yet played a note. The murmurs and hisses were caused by their clothes. Looked like half the band had stepped out of a Western. Cowboys and Indians were both represented. Fringed jacket, Stetson, the lot. ‘Neat,’ said David. But as soon as the lights went on full and the guys lifted their heads both he and Juno gasped. ‘It’s that wise-ass, what’s his name…’ hissed David. ‘Stephen… something. Who’d be in a band with him?’ Juno could’ve given him a partial answer to that, if she’d been able to speak right then.

For the leggy Comanche with pudding-bowl hair who hovered a little apart to the left of his bandmates was none other than gawky Neil, who’d clearly left Sugar Mountain for good. How had he wound up in a band here without David or her knowing? Why did everyone have to come to LA?

Buffalo Springfield were the Byrds in heat. They had not one but two lead guitars, played by Stephen and Neil, which tore into each other in a way that was somehow a lot more charged than that of Brian Jones and Keith Richards. Although they weren’t real tight yet they brought the place down. Juno’s neck hairs were frozen stiff and the air had solidified to deep space.

‘Whaddaya say?’ said someone behind David and Juno. ‘Bitchin’ or what?’ It was Chris, the Byrds’ bassist. ‘Phhhhh…’ said David, before his vocal chords seemed to fail him.

 

Juno got to meet Neil real soon, as Chris’s enthusiasm steamrollered David’s opposition and the Byrds hired the Springfield to support them on their upcoming Californian tour. Neil’s stare wiped the floor with Jim’s. Juno somehow felt that doing Magic directly to him, as to Joni, was a border she definitely didn’t want to cross, and resolved to try and stay out of his way for now. Maybe he’d bug off again.

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The day David came back Horace Fillmore, a reclusive LA painter, was met aboard the Ataraxia by a most attractive young lady who introduced herself as the hostess for his deck. She apologized profusely for his cabin not being ready yet, but as Mr Fillmore had decided to join them on such short notice, which was her pleasure and no problem at all of course, it would take another little while to prepare. She later apologized a second time when the previous occupants’ name turned out to be on the welcome note tucked into his complementary fruit hamper. This, she hastened to explain, was due to this charming and very generous couple having also changed their plans at rather short notice. It appeared that the purser had yet to update his records. She removed the note reading ‘Mr and Mrs Forsythe’ and wished Mr Fillmore a pleasant stay. On settling into his cabin Horace briefly had the strange feeling that he’d forgotten something… not why he was here, obviously, which was clearly unimportant, no, it was something else… why was it he kept on thinking about cat food?

 

Almost immediately after Juno moved house she and David started drifting apart. It was she who wanted freedom more and more. There were so many houses to hang out at, so many hoots to play, so many guys with guitars who adored her songs… In her head they were pretty much her songs now, although twice Ry had to go hunt Joni down on the East Coast for more. And obviously there was Jackson, even if he and Juno never more than held hands and something about how he looked at her when she played had a way of reminding her that these weren’t her songs at all. David pined a little at first, but the Byrds were real busy being excited about their less commercial new sound, and, besides, there were so many people’s places to hang out at, so many gigs to play, so many chicks who adored his band… Nevertheless they still saw quite a lot of each other, particularly at Cass’s place, and it was David who was in the Troub with Juno in mid-April, the day she got the second biggest shock of her life.

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They turned into another side road. ‘This is Lookout Mountain Avenue,’ said Jackson. Juno stopped dead. Among pines where the two roads met stood a large wooden cabin. For the first time in a year and a half something stirred memories of home. Maybe that was what it was about this place, Juno mused. It was rustic and tropical, in a city and remote, a little like Canada and a little like California, everything rolled into one. She sure could understand why everyone came to live up here.

‘Neat pad, isn’t it?’ said Jackson, watching Juno. ‘It was built by Tom Mix. Way back. C’mon, Cass’s is this way.’

On they walked along Lookout Mountain, to their right the densely green canyonside, and in the sun to their left the city of angels, mellowed by mist, with the ocean beyond.

They were still holding hands when they came upon the cottage. With its steep roof that almost touched the porch floor it seemed to be snuggling into the mountain. Vegetation was hugging it on every side. The moment she set eyes on it Juno lost what little interest she still had in the cool house on the beach. This was the closest thing to a witch’s cottage she’d ever seen.

Again she stopped dead in her tracks, then let go Jackson’s hand and took a step towards the house. ‘Yeah, I know,’ said he behind her. ‘It’s the one I’d go for, too, around here.’

‘D’you think anybody lives in it?’ asked Juno, merely to say something normal, ’cause the house was clearly occupied. But she sure wasn’t worried about that.

‘I reckon so,’ said Jackson, putting his arm around her shoulder and pointing to two cats rolling on the ground in the front yard, their paws in the air. ‘C’mere, pzz pzz kitty-kitty,’ he went, crouching down. Both cats ran to him. He tickled them under their chins and between the ears as he read the name tags on their collars. ‘This one’s called Ezz,’ he said after a moment. ‘Funny. And here we got… Tomson. Good to meet you, Ezz and Tomson.’

Little did he know that it would only be days before he should meet them again.

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The Sunday before David came back she found herself strolling up in the canyon with Jackson. It was afternoon, and the first time she’d ever been for a walk in anything approaching countryside. They’d been at Billy’s when Jackson had suggested they head up on foot to see Cass. Since everything they’d done together over the past couple weeks had been real fun, Juno’d readily agreed. Things always seemed to turn out right with Jackson around. Something always seemed to happen, and yet he was also a lot more… relaxing to be with than David.

Emerging from their side road they hit Laurel Canyon Boulevard and turned left up the hill. Juno had no idea how far it would be. She’d only ever done this trip in a car. It was an LA spring day and the warm sun flashed down on them through palm and pine branches as they followed the turns of the road. Jackson took off his shirt. ‘Isn’t it amazing?’ he said.

Juno was more than ready to agree where his chest was concerned but not so sure if that was what he’d meant, so she just went, ‘Hmm…’

Jackson took her hand and gently pulled her around. And there below them, distant as if in another world under a dome of glittering haze, was the city. For a brief moment Juno really felt as if she was above things, beyond time, hand in hand there with Jackson in this high shady garden and nothing but the fresh smell of eucalyptus in her head.

They stood like that until Juno noticed the music. It seemed to come from all directions, some piano here, a waft of mandolin there, and maybe it was because she was holding Jackson’s hand that somehow it all blended together perfectly with the rustling of the branches and the birds’ singing into the canyon’s own melody that rang around its leafy walls.

‘Who is it?’ she finally whispered.

‘Its… everybody,’ replied Jackson. ‘Everybody lives up here now. We just passed Danny Hutton’s house, Frank Zappa’s down that way, Arthur Lee’s a little further up now, most of the Monkees have been here a while…’

They leisurely carried on up the road which got steeper and a little narrower. The valley became even more wooded and lush, and the sun’s highlights kept on dancing on Jackson’s head as the scented air bathed Juno’s mind. The music continued. They were still holding hands.

Juno didn’t know it, but her times with Jackson were the reason she would have anything left in her coffers at all.

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Everything was different in the spring of ’66. David never went to any gathering of people without Juno anymore. He’d stand there in his cape and Borsalino and present her to the crowd like a magician whipping a musical bunny out of his hat. Ry had to go see Joni at The Chess Mate in Detroit, where she played with her husband. Luckily she had two more songs of her own. Juno sure liked the attention. All the guys and even some of the women now looked at her a little like David had for the first time that day on the lawn. And the stars or occasionally the sun that got to look through the cupola could see new and amazing sights. Not only did David keep on asking who this Michael in one of the new songs was but he never stayed out after gigs anymore. Juno got the feeling that if it had been an option he’d even have brought her along on tour.

By then she could’ve had Gene’s seat. He’d freaked on a plane on the runway. Anybody would have, wedged between David and Jim, as Jackson said. It was clear he didn’t mean the onboard seating arrangements. The Byrds pressed on without Gene.

Juno enjoyed herself while David was away that time. Going out on her own had never been such fun. She moved from the Troub to the Unicorn to a party, playing the three songs, basking in admiration and her new reputation for being super-friendly too, as afterwards she always went up to chat to the few folks she didn’t know. If they had any connection with the East Coast or Canada they’d experience a sudden partial blank on leaving town. Meanwhile Jackson took her places she’d never been, like the Big Bear Lounge in Huntingdon in Orange County, where he did a spot at the hoot, or to the jam sessions he played in at McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Long Beach. Other days they spent at Billy the Columbia guy’s house near Cass’s in Laurel Canyon, which seemed to be the new asylum for every hungry musician in the state. All of whom loved Juno and her songs. Cass loved her too and Juno loved hanging at her place, now that she wasn’t into being a hostess anymore. If she was totally honest, that time while David was away Juno enjoyed herself… more.

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She went upstairs to the bathroom to steady herself a minute, and picked up a guitar from the parlour on her way back.

Jackson was sitting with his back to a tree while David lay stretched out on the ground. Without a word Juno sat down halfway between them, guitar ready. Jackson sleepily opened one eye. David didn’t stir.

She shut her eyes, called on the Magic, transcended time and space, amplified her spell and began to sing.

The effect was instantaneous. She hadn’t even got to the first chorus when Jackson was on his feet and David had flipped up as if electrified, his mouth hanging open. All over the yard folks were rising, their eyes and ears wide.

Singing about how you couldn’t return to from where you came but just had to keep on going, Joni’s voice rang out through the patterns of sun and shade under the old trees in the canyon.

Afterwards there were several seconds of total silence. Cass was first to speak. ‘Wow!’ she said. ‘And I didn’t even know you sang!’

‘What chord did you do over the neck like that?’ asked Ray, one of the English guys.

Jackson moved towards Juno as if in a trance and crouched down beside her. ‘That was beautiful,’ he said simply, but his voice sounded funny. Emotional.

‘Thank you,’ said Juno with a modest smile. ‘I wrote it when I should’ve been painting.’

This statement jerked David into partial life. The power of speech still seemed to elude him, but he took the guitar from Juno and shakily played a few chords. ‘G,’ he then said to Jackson in what could only be called total shock. ‘It’s tuned in an open G!’

He finally turned to Juno, real slow. ‘Why’d you never say?’ As well as utter amazement there was a new tenderness in his voice, and Juno hated to admit that he looked at her like never before.

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On the spring equinox an all-night hoot was held in the Troubadour. Everybody who was anybody attended, as well as the usual wannabes. Juno briefly contemplated getting up and doing Joni’s song. She’d practised a lot by now, not the singing and playing obviously, but the complicated Magic she had to perform. It consisted of three connected spells. First she had to call on the Magic while at the same time visualizing Joni singing the song, then do a space-and-time obliteration which mentally took her back to the Fourth Dimension, and finish up with a powerful execution spell that was like a maximisation of the bringing-on of the Magic. The end result of all this was that she’d always be reproducing that one performance of Joni’s, but she wasn’t worried about that. It was hardly gonna be a problem. As far as she was concerned it had been perfect.

She didn’t get up in the Troub, though. She was waiting for David to get back from an out-of-town gig.

At dawn a chosen circle moved on to Cass’s brand new place which was also up in the hills. Apart from Juno there were those of the Mamas and Papas who were speaking to Cass right then, David and Chris who’d returned by now, Jackson and his pal Greg, Billy the Columbia guy and his wife, a zany dude called Barry who was always around these days, Marc from The Turtles, a couple English musicians who were in town, the usual few good-looking chicks and some other hangers-on Juno didn’t really know. The customary shindig ensued.

Late in the morning Cass declared it time for brunch, and that it would be taken outside on the lawn. Her catering was at least as good as Juno’s, so a half hour later there were drowsy, well-fed bodies strewn all around the yard.

Juno reckoned she could rouse them.

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‘I’ve written a song!’ David yelled early next morning before he was even halfway up the stairs to the domed chamber. Juno hardly considered this news, and sure didn’t think it worth being woken at 6am for. David was airborne, though, and not to be stopped. He had a guitar with him. ‘Check this out! This is totally different!’ he exclaimed, and Juno didn’t have a choice but to sit up and listen.

The song was a mess. It started with ordinary enough strumming, but quickly slipped into kind of atonal, almost creepy, repetitive plucking, and the lyrics were weird. Something about lonely signposts and abandoned limousines. At least the first line was apt, even if ‘eight miles high’ could be called an understatement for David’s present state. Juno reckoned it wasn’t the moment for Joni’s composition.

That moment didn’t come for another while. David stayed right up wherever it was he currently dwelt. The band were feverishly working on their new single. It turned out that it wasn’t only David’s song. Jim and Gene’d had more than a little to do with its writing too and there ensued the by now familiar wrangling for credits, yet for some reason the whole bizarre thing seemed like a whole new wind for the Byrds. Juno bid her time when David went AWOL for whole days or nights and was too wired to take anything in when he finally showed. She had a feeling that there’d be a lull before long.

The track was nailed on December 22. Everyone was ecstatic about the result. Unfortunately it had to be recorded again in January, at a different place, as the Byrds turned out to be contractually obliged to use that second studio. But they trooped on undeterred to the eventual release date in early March.

Right away the backlash began. Several radio stations banned the song for being about drugs, which the band in vain tried to counter by insisting that the words referred to an airplane flight. The fans didn’t seem keen on it either, and by the month’s end it had become clear that Eight Miles High was, by the Byrds’ standards, a flop.

Juno’d changed her mind about it once she’d heard the finished tape. It sure sounded strange, but it did give her the feeling, and she couldn’t deny that Jim’s playing had something. It went with his stare. Nevertheless she was pleased that there was a stalled moment for David. Her moment.

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And then the guy went and played a song he said he’d written himself. It was another melancholy song, about outgrowing your childhood, but somehow it didn’t make Juno feel sad. For some reason the singer pouring out his own torment like that comforted her in her own current anguish, and, strangely, she couldn’t imagine anyone but him singing that song. Her eyes automatically sought out Joni. Apparently you couldn’t be twenty on Sugar Mountain, and for some reason Joni was as mesmerized by this strange sentiment as Juno was.

That song and loud applause concluded the guy’s set, and he instantly morphed back into the mess he’d been before. There didn’t seem to be a plan for what was on next. A clean-cut guy took the mike asking if there were any other players. It surprised Juno that there was a hoot night on a Tuesday, but not as much as seeing the reluctantly adult singer looking reasonably happy now and making straight for Joni.

‘I love that song, Neil,’ Juno heard Joni say to him. ‘And y’know what, I got a surprise for you. Here!’ she called to Mr Tidy on the stage, who was clearly pleased and introduced her by her married name. She dragged a guitar case from under her seat and within a minute was singing.

Juno’d never heard the tune before, and she barely registered the awed picture Neil’s face was when he realized at the same time as she did that Joni’s song was a direct answer to his. In Joni’s song the boy was twenty, too, and she promised him plenty dreams yet to come true.

Juno felt luckier than she could ever have dreamed. Joni had written a song. A song nobody in LA knew.