Saturday, March 1, 2008

Man, we just became big fans of Shelby Lynne.

"Hey, why don't y'all come over and bring your computers and let's have a party"? Hell no! I say bring pot, wine and vinyl. That's sexy."

A Studer 2-inch tape machine is a huge cumbersome beast that takes up a lot of space and might need pampering and attention when you make records. It requires that you use big, heavy rolls of 2-inch tape that need changing when you record two or three songs on them. And hardly anyone produces or manufactures vinyl records anymore. And nobody has a turntable. But it's making a trendy comeback.

Just because something is easier doesn't make it better. It certainly doesn't make it sound better. I had a digital recording rig in my home studio for a month or two and got so depressed. I quit writing songs, my guitar collected dust and I thought my creative life had ended. So I jerked it all out of the wall and threw it in the garage and that's where it will stay.

My new album, "Just A Little Lovin'" was made on a 2-inch tape machine. I demanded it. I like working with engineers and producers who love and appreciate tape. I love the sound, smell, and feel of tape. That's why I enlisted legendary record producer, Phil Ramone, and the brilliant recording engineer, Al Schmitt. They didn't mind my insistence. They put up with my hardheadedness. Hardly anyone uses tape anymore because they claim it's so expensive and it's just easier to use a computer. Most engineers can operate any computer rig in studios these days. But if you ask them to run a Studer and put on a reel of tape, they run down the hallway screaming for Mommy. I'm sorry, but I can't get turned on looking at a computer screen. First of all, it's not more expensive. By the time digital users spend the time and money to buy the software needed to put that "tape sound" on their digital record, they have spent more time and money than I have. While their downloading "tape sound" software, I'm kicking back on the houseboat drinking beer with a fishing pole in my hand listening to Django.

It's not for everybody. Tapes are not perfect like digital. If you want to sing the word "love" 40 different times and 40 different ways, then digital's for you. Tape requires attention. You can't just push the space bar and go to lunch. For example: When I put on my vinyl (yes vinyl) of Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love," my favorite part is towards the end when you hear the "print through" of Robert's vocals. You know the part when he sings "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah"? For years, before I made records I thought that what I was hearing was on there on purpose, for effect. But while making my new record the same thing happened. There is no reason, it's just a tape thing. Sometimes that happens. It's not as noticeable or as cool as Zeppelin but if you listen to my first track, "Just A Little Lovin'," towards the end you will hear my voice. I made a record with print through. Wow. Everybody wanted to fix it but I insisted on keeping it. This is a true testament to using tape. The "real" comes through. It makes me proud to be such a hard head.

I was born in '68. Mama and Daddy had albums. I grew up listening to their vinyl. I have discovered that having a vinyl collection is so much cooler than having an iPod. Now, I have an iPod and I admit they are genius especially for travel and convenience. But they aren't really any fun. I don't call up my friends and say "Hey why don't y'all come over and bring your computers and let's have a party"? Hell no! I say bring pot, wine and vinyl. That's sexy. It's really a great excuse to get together and listen to music. Everybody takes a turn looking through the collection and it's interesting to see what each person plays. The vinyl way is just me. I think if if we all listen to more music together, it really doesn't matter how we do it. Music will save us all just like it always has. We feed our souls with it. Vinyl just creates a little more discussion for us. You get to look at the covers, the liner notes, sometimes the lyrics are included. Plus you can roll a doobie on it. That's hard on an Ipod.

Times are tough. Concert tickets are high and records are, too. Hell, everything is high and nobody has any dough. With our economy and the way it's headed, my guess is that we'll all be staying home drinking bottles of Two Buck Chuck listening to music, however we choose to do it. Cheers, music lovin' fools!