Award-winning filmmaker SJ Chiro reviews Alicia’s movie, Living on the Earth – The Musical

Alicia’s poster for her movie, and a photo of Alicia performing the live show upon which the movie is based.

My dear friend, celebrated director/screenwriter SJ Chiro, who, right now, is launching her latest masterpiece, “East of the Mountains,” just took the time to review my first, and most likely, only, movie, “Living on the Earth – The Musical.”

Here is what she wrote:

I watched Alicia Bay Laurel’s one woman show, “Living on Earth – The Musical,” with rapt attention. The 1-hour-47-minute running time flew by.

As a child of her contemporaries, growing up on one of the communes on which Alicia herself lived in her early years, I listened as she unwrapped her history, a history I had never known. Tales of when she was a girl. The experiences which shaped her, including a fraught relationship with her mother.

As children, we only know what we experience of people in the present. I saw adults who had already made the decision to break with their straight, uptight parents and go back to the land, living simply and illegally, eating brown rice and vegetables communally, and walking down long dirt roads with bare feet. This was their present, but how did they get here? And now that they were here, what did living on the land mean to them? What were they eschewing? Why had they created a new paradigm?

Alicia tells the answers to these questions, and more, as she sings and plays her guitar in the style that brought me back to my childhood, her mellow voice, sometimes soothing, sometimes full of energy. I saw a portrait of a strong-willed and clever independent teenager who lit out for San Francisco and eventually made her way North to Sonoma County.

Always energetic and creative, Alicia decided to make a book illustrating Life on the Land. She called it Living on the Earth and it was surprisingly a huge success. As a young woman she was suddenly famous, and had money. A lot more money than most of the people around her. Alicia doesn’t shy away from honestly recounting how this imbalance caused some problems and resentments among her peers, but the show keeps on truckin’.

Soon Alicia is in Hawaii and other locales. The stories keep coming. At one point, she is joined on stage by her great long-time friend and collaborator Ramón Sender Barayón. How beautiful to see two artists who have known each other for so many years, respect each other’s company and make music together.

Some of Alicia’s rawness may shock, some inspire laughter, some elicit “Wow!”s from the audience. That is the glory of the unvarnished truth of a lifetime, and we are so lucky to get to hear all this from the master artist Alicia Bay Laurel.

SJ Chiro
Director East of the Mountains
Director Lane 1974
lane1974film.com

East of the Mountains” is available from practically all Video on Demand outlets . It’s poetry in cinema.

Here is a particularly wonderful review:https://www.rogerebert.com/…/east-of-the-mountains…

Here’s the link to see “Living on the Earth – The Musical.”https://vimeo.com/ondemand/livingontheearthmusical/

The movie, “Living on the Earth – The Musical” has begun streaming service. Autumn equinox movie and book launch online event with Alicia Bay Laurel on September 22 at 9 pm EDT


Here is the link for the online event, which is free, and available to viewers both on and off Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/events/3074234512900074/

Here is the link for the movie:

https://vimeo.com/ondemand/livingontheearthmusical/

The trailer is already available at the same link.

There is a modest paywall of $7.50 US to “rent” the movie for 48 hours.

The movie will remain available on Vimeo for a few years, at least.

The autumn equinox event will include Q&A with Alicia about the movie (so please see the movie first), as well as about the two new editions of her 50-year-old books, Living on the Earth and Being of the Sun. She might tell some stories that aren’t in the movie, too.

Alicia will create and send (via email) free illustrated, personalized book inscriptions (normally $10 each) for either of these books if purchased from the Indigo With Stars online store during the event.

Here are the links to purchase the books:

https://indigowithstars.com/products/living-on-the-earth-5th-english-edition

https://indigowithstars.com/products/being-of-the-sun-1

Please send the names to be inscribed, the email address of the recipient of the inscription page, and any special message you’d like included, to Alicia at alicia@aliciabaylaurel.com


Here is a time zone converter to help determine when the event will occur in your time zone:

https://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter-classic.html


Monday! Monday! THIS Monday! I am sooooo excited about this!The truly, utterly divine work of my friend and lifetime shero Alicia Bay Laurel is coming to LIFE in a video. A musical, no less! I would not miss this for the world. Join the celebration!

Beth Owl’s Daughter
Author, Writer, Seer,
Sun/Wheel/Magician. Anti-dystopian
Durham, North Carolina

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I watched the trailer, and I think your film is going to be incredible.  You are such a wonderful storyteller, as I learned the day we spent walking around the arboretum and talking.  And you are so funny!  I will watch the movie once it comes out.  What a wonderful story about how the movie came about with Luis Olano.

Barbara Light Lacey
Author, Singer/songwriter
Dallas, Texas

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I loved Living on the Earth and have followed Alicia Bay Laurel a bit, but had not heard of this new work. I count myself incredibly lucky to ended up at Star Mountain, and the amazing communities in the area in the very early eighties. My life was forever changed by those times, and I am so grateful. Thanks for the recommendation.

Kelli Kennedy

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Hi Alicia,

Alan and I watched the movie last week.  Wow! I love it!  I enjoyed hearing your story and songs.  It brought up many memories –  a lot was familiar to me, but some was not and your story tied it all together.  I’m glad I was able to see it – thanks for sending me the link!  Your art is continuing to evolve and expand!

Lani Harriman
Santa Cruz, California

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The first new English edition of Being of the Sun since 1973

A 5-minute video synopsis of Ramón Sender Barayón’s and Alicia Bay Laurel’s celebration of freedom to choose one’s own spiritual path, with suggestions of practices and projects that have given them joy, including immersion in nature, making music on homemade instruments, and celebrating cycles of light.

Echo Point Books & Media, of Brattleboro, Vermont, expects to release the book in July 2021. Pre-ordering the book is available here.

In 1973, Ramón recorded himself and Alicia performing some of the songs, chants, drone pieces and improvisations in the book. In 2013, Alicia had these archival tapes remastered to create an album, Songs from Being of the Sun.

The original 1973 Harper & Row edition of Being of the Sun is available here.

The Soshisha, Ltd. Japanese language edition is available here.

History and reader comments about Being of the Sun here.

The colors of the cover and interior color illustrations for the 2021 edition are from scans Alicia made in 2019 of the original color artwork she created in 1972, which are more vibrant than the color pallettes used by publishers of other editions.

Living on the Earth: The Musical

Telling the stories at Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center in Venice Beach, California, November 5, 2016

The print material in my garment is white organic cotton printed with pages of the book Living on the Earth with natural indigo dye.

This fabric and ensemble were designed and produced by Kaoriko Ago Wada for her organic fiber, fair trade fashion company, Little Eagle.



Living on the Earth: The Musical, is an original one-woman, two-act show of quirky, edgy stories about the birth and aftermath of the book, Living on the Earth, plus some of the songs I wrote during these times.

During the year 2000, I performed the show 75 times during a twice-cross-country road tour plus five shows in Hawaii. I performed the show occasionally in succeeding years as well, including three shows in California and Arizona in 2016.

No two shows have been entirely identical, since I chose which of the stories to tell while on stage and interacting with the audience. And, as I accrued additional life experiences, I added a few new stories to the end.


Poster for a performance in Kea’au, Hawaii in 2002



Following are comments from audience members, emailed to me after seeing the show:


“Great performance by our legendary friend Alicia this afternoon in Venice, California. It was amazing!”
Pauline Adamek, Theatre Critic, Los Angeles, California


“Alicia Bay Laurel is a wealth of storytelling! What an amazing trip she’s taking us on….”
Gwendolyn Sanford, Film Composer and Singer/Songwriter, Los Angeles, California


“My Beautiful Alicia, Thank you for a fabulous evening! We all loved it and you are Beyond Brilliant…your show was so much fun and filled with so much love, it was a happening and wonderful to behold.”
Brenda Lowy, Legal Secretary and my beloved cousin, who brought her entire household to the show
Los Angeles, California


“I am so glad that I went to hear Alicia Bay Laurel’s show tonight. The songs were great, but the story telling was amazing. She shared the life journey that led to her writing Living on the Earth and beyond. It was a fascinating history lesson and a peek at what my parents were doing just before I was born.”
Amanda Timbermoon, teacher, mother and community leader
Occidental, California


“I was so glad to be there and hear Alicia perform. No wonder the Japanese are such fans!”
Erin Sheffield, co-curator of the open land commune exhibition, “The Hippies,” presented by the Sonoma County Historical Society at the West County Museum
Sebastopol, California


“It was such a special, intimate event! An honor to be there, especially as it is the last of the kind! Alicia, your guitar playing, storytelling, songwriting and singing are authentic,uplifting, humorous,and enchanting. For me, it was a real validation of my/our/ the counter-cultural collective/ choices, experiences, and commitment to natural living, in the many forms that takes. And to see the on-going creativity, insights, and awareness you embody is very inspiring! Within minutes I was drawing again! Thank you!”
Andrea McShane Radoccia, bed and breakfast owner and natural gardener
Clarkdale, Arizona


“Dearest Alicia your musical words moved me beyond measure. I had tears in my eyes while listening to some of the lovely lyrics that you wrote. Thank you for sharing your heartfelt heartstrings last evening, it was positively divine!”
Mardy Bee, antique collector and scholar
Prescott, Arizona


“I am so grateful for being able to attend an intimate home concert with beautiful music created by Alicia Bay Laurel. Her music has different sounding elements, from hippie folk style to Hawaiian to bluesy sounding magic. I love her hippie stuff – Oh Sweet Self and Mandala are two of my favorite songs. I am smiling and spinning around my home this morning getting all my chores done. Feeling so blessed.”
Jennifer Price, Artist
Sedona, Arizona


“Alicia, we loved your concert! You should write a memoir! Seriously! Thank you for coming to Sedona and sharing your clear presence with us– come back soon! My daughters will love their t-shirts and cds, as will my husband and I. We remember those ‘Paisley Days’!”
Elizabeth Oakes, Writer and Professor Emeritus of Literature
Sedona, Arizona



Ramón Sender Barayón and Alicia Bay Laurel after singing Ramón’s sunset chant.

November 13, 2016 at the Arlene Francis Center in Santa Rosa, California.

Similar, but different, performance costume, also designed and produced by Kaoriko Ago Wada.



In 2021, I am collaborating with Spanish filmmaker Luis Olano on the movie version of “Living on the Earth: The Musical,” which he filmed on November 13, 2016 while gathering footage for Sender Barayón – Viaje Hace la Luz, a documentary about the life and work of Ramón Sender Barayón, who made a guest appearance in the show. 

Sophia Rose’s video collage of Alicia’s books and art, with Alicia’s song 1966

Sophia Rose, very creative herbalist, writer, photographer, designer, life artist, and my good friend, assembled this video collage of art from my books and photographs of me and my communal friends in the early 1970s in Northern California, to a fragment of my autobiographical jazz waltz, “1966.”  You can savor Sophia Rose’s divine herbal and artistic offerings at La Abeja Herbs.