Soul Mining – A Musical Life – Daniel Lanois

For a really fun introspective to a music producer’s mindset you really should read Daniel Lanois’ book “A Musical Life“. Lanois puts you in the studio in various situations and references many great insights as to what he admires, attempted to do or just heard.

As I read the book I enjoyed so many passages and was led to explore or revisit so many wonderful sounds. For example many detailed explanations of what made U2 sound so unique from the hammer on in intro to “One” which I suspect we all know to the pedal steel solo by Lanois at the 3:40 which I inserted below. This and the addition of how Bono came up with the lyrics.

This is just one of the insights and there are many for U2. Sometimes I could listen to the references on YouTube other times I had to actually go out and buy the CD so I could really appreciate the nuances.

A great nuance that I can honestly say I had not experienced in a long time was brought to my attention with comments about the the Bob Dylan Album “Time Out of Mind” . I love this album and while I thought this was mainly due to the acoustic instruments, which I do love, but as Lanois explained he was going for “depth of field. While its subtle this really does bring the album to life. Lanois mentions he was inspired by Dr. John recordings where instruments come from different places in the room. You can really hear this effect on Dr, John’s Right place wrong time. You can hear the effect on Dr. John’s Right Time Wrong Place on youtube but it’s just a hint of the sonic effect compared to a CD on a decent stereo.

These are trivial examples of the insights and almost every page has a description of an experience that had me picking up music because it was recorded in the same room as as another recording or had the same second drummer on it. Then there are the historical references like how reggae that we all love actually was born out of effects and not a traditional folk sound in Jamaica as we may believe. Sure its got a groove but check this video of Lee “Scratch” Perry, a producer in his own write and watch how busy the effects guy is to transform that groove and take it to a whole new level.

Another historical reference that emphisies Lanois treatment of drums is the inspiration drawn from Arthur Alexander and the high hat treatment in the song Anna. Lanois mentions this was long before The Beatles got hold of this sound and introduced it to all of us.

These are not the highlights of the book. Every page is filled with references that will have you searching the internet, music sites and even stores to find the treasures documented in this wonderful book. Do yourself a favor and enjoy a musical journey in your favorite listening spot and have your computer and stereo handy while reading Daniel Lanois’ book “A Musical Life“.

Bob Dylan – Chronicles Volume 1

Bob Dylan Chronicles Volume 1 is a very enjoyable collection of ramblings by Bob Dylan about his trajectory into a performer and his thoughts and influences along the way. What I found most interesting was the naming of multiple musicians on the “folk scene” and references to traditional folk music. With that in mind I decided to capture some and provide links for further exploration. I hope you buy the book and enjoy this companion post.

Without a doubt Woody Guthrie is the most referenced influence in the book. It’s fascinating how Dylan figuratively follows Woody as an influence up to befriending him and visiting him in in hospital during the end of Woody’s days. Obviously I was off to check out as much Woody Guthrie as I possibly could. I found that in 2013 a 3 CD box set entitled “Woody at 100” was released.

I believe the next most referenced influence may be Dave Van Ronk. I’m not including any spoiler alerts so without going into detail on Van Ronk’s influence or involvement in Dylan’s career I just need to mention that Dave Van Ronk had a huge impact with respect to the revival of folk music, as a facilitator, musician and as the so called “Mayor of MacDougal Street” which was where the “scene” was taking place. The most popular and reflective of the period album by Dave Van Ronk is FolkSinger though “The Mayor of MacDougal Street” compilation released in 2005 may be a more interesting listen with more obscure tracks (notes as rarities in the albums subtitle), There is also a book also entitled “The Mayor of MacDougal Street” which I’m going to check,

John Henry Hammond, a prominent record producer at the time, is also listed as influencing in terms of exposing Dylan to music as well as getting him his first recording contract. Once I started looking into John Hammond the producer I was blown away by the stories. I wrote a separate post detailing just a few of the things we owe thanks to John Hammond for in addition to that first Bob Dylan recording. The references to John Hammond are short but important to the book and Dylan’s success. I highly recommend reading The Producer: John Hammond and the Soul of American Music for an entertaining time learning about John Hammond’s influence over the music we can all enjoy to this day.

Thanks for reading. I’ll add to this post with additional research on the more prominent influences mentioned in the book so please check back.

John Hammond – Record Producer

From Wikipedia “Hammond was instrumental in sparking or furthering numerous musical careers, including those of Bob DylanBruce SpringsteenBenny GoodmanHarry JamesCharlie ChristianBillie HolidayCount BasieTeddy WilsonBig Joe TurnerPete SeegerBabatunde OlatunjiAretha FranklinGeorge BensonFreddie GreenLeonard CohenArthur RussellJim CoppAsha PuthliStevie Ray Vaughan and Mike Bloomfield. He is also largely responsible for the revival of delta blues artist Robert Johnson‘s music.”

Wow that’s quite a list. Several of my favorite musicians whose careers took off with John Hammond’s assistance, To think where we’d be without him. Also father to John P. Hammond and awesome performer in his own right. I think I owe this John Hammond (Senior) a world of thanks.

In Bob Dylan’s Chronicles Volume 1 Dylan explains how John Hammond loaned him a record, Robert Johnson – King of the Delta Blues. Dylan analyzed and obsessed over Robert Johnson’s songs for a period of time. Columbia had acquired the Robert Johnson recordings through an acquisition and it was Hamond’s decision to re-release them. That’s what I’d call a two-for as in two for one. Inspiring Dylan and providing the world the opportunity to hear Robert Johnson.

The Producer: John Hammond and the Soul of American Music is a great book about John Hammond. So many great contributions to our world of music. The tales seem endless from re-releasing Robert Johnson recordings to bringing Springsteen in under the guise of recording and acoustic album but releasing Greetings from Ashbury Park NJ and everything in between including Benny Goodman to Bessie Smith. Also there were the “From Spirituals to Swing” concerts presenting African-American music from early spirituals through to blues, jazz and swing. This did more than preserve and promote the music. With its racially integrated cast and audience it demonstrated a progressive understanding of and promotion of equality. What an incredible story.

A New World

I’ve had this site for 15 years now. I’ve had lots of content then lost it (thanks GoDaddy). I’ve changed directions a few times but with a URL like the changes seemed sacrilegious. But I’m sort ofa fanatic about not being fanatical so the seemingly randomness of the site made sense to me.

To be sure blues was what pulled me into music but as I became a better guitar player I realized it was the words and acoustic sounds I was really in love with. So with that said the has started anew once again.

I’ll be focusing on promoting music I love and all the things related to playing, listening and learning more about the music. Some will be blues, some not, and some will be acoustic but, I have been playing the electric guitar more and more so who knows where that will take us.

My hope is to find like minded people who will share their musical gems with me and to help promote the music and musicians who have entertained me . Please contact me if you have suggestions of music to listen to or other ideas for the site to help with these goals. Thanks, Fred.

Guitar Repair and Maintainance

Here is an interesting articles on guitar setup and maintenance.

The 12-Step Guide to Electric and Acoustic Guitar Setup by The Pick Really more of a maintenance guide but does show some adjustments. Mind you they do nothing for setting intonation on acoustic guitars.

This one does a better job of adjusting intonation on an acoustic guitar

Lastly a discussion with a tech at Long and McQuade Kanata has indicated intonation on acoustic guitar is more commonly affected by the wood around the saddle giving way – so if you see a bow in the top of your guitar or the saddle is lifting then it would affect intonation. Now you can check this with a piece of paper. Check if you can slip the paper under the saddle. If you can it may be coming loose. That said my best sounding guitar which has minimal intonation problems (less than any of my other guitars) I can slip paper under the saddle, so not sure what to make of that.

Bob Dylan Songs Open D Tuning

Open D tuning ( D A D F♯ A D ) has a wonderful sound to it. It is frequently played with capo on the second fret to get open E (apparently easier on the guitar than tuning open E). Blood on the tracks is probably my favorite Bob Dylan album and I’m pretty sure this is what fueled my fondness of open D. Could be a chicken and an egg thing, really not sure.

So with all that said here are my favorite Bob Dylan tunes to play in Open D tuning.

  • Favorite Open D Bob Dylan Tunes to Play
    • Simple Twist of Fate
    • You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go
    • Buckets of Rain
    • Tangled up in Blue

  • Some others I’ll need to check out
    • Idiot Wind
    • Corina Corina

Got It need IT

I love going to the record store and picking up music but frequently I find myself wondering if I have the album I find. Other times I’ll come across a garage sale or music store or some other random collection of music for sale and find myself trying to recall what band or tune recently caught my attention that I want to keep a look out for.

The problem is worse still with online shopping. Now I can pick up just a track so I have the tune but I tend to want the entire album and I enjoy the experience of shopping locally and supporting the record stores. So now I have a track from an album I want to pick up but when I get to the store , well, you know I fall into that cycle of what I got and what I need.

But even in the There just seems to be an unlimited number of issues I run into when it comes to tracking and organizing my music collection. Just a few other examples:

  • Remembering songs I want to learn to play
  • Recalling albums I want to stream to see if I want to own them
  • Making note of music I want blog about
  • Choosing which album will have the best recording of a specific track
  • Finding covers of songs I love

To solve this problem I started to write my own web app that I could access anytime on my phone. I called it “Got It Need It” and you can see it here.

It’s early days and there is not much there in terms of functionality yet. I’m wondering if anyone else has this problem or an interest in using the application. If so please feel free to email me gotitneedit @ or discuss it on the worldofblues discord server.

Thanks for reading.

Colin Linden (Artist)

Behind the scenes of the music I’ve come to enjoy there are some people putting it all together. I’ve come to realize that well may be the reason I love one album over another. Some are such influences that they deserve a book being written about their efforts and experiences. Colin Linden is one such person.

Colin has appeared on over 400 recordings accompanying such greats as Bruce Cockburn, Bob Dylan, Keb Mo’, T Bone Burnett and Emmy Lou Harris. He has also produced over 100 albums including several by Bruce Cockburn, Colin James and Sue Foley.

I was also introduced to two amazing songs which I found by looking up Colin’s contributions to tribute albums. Big River by Johnny Cash, I just love that E to Em strum, and Dry Bones Dance by Mark Heard. For Dry Bone’s dance Colin’s acoustic version is also worth a listen. I think that cool riff is something like this:

Colin is a great solo performer as well and as proof I present my favorite Colin Linden tune. Check this out:

Colin’s influence reaches far and wide and certainly appeals to my taste in music. I’ll be adding more about Colin and the band I’ve seen him perform most often which is Blackie and the Rodeo Kings. Here are some links to Blackie and the Rodeo Kings and the original band members Colin Linden, Steven Fearing and Tom Wilson. The group started as a super group of Canadian performers for a tribute to Willie P. Bennet who passed away when he was 56. Another great performed who I had the privilege of crossing paths with. Now if you ever get a chance to see Blackie and the Rodeo Kings DO IT! Probably the best concert I ever saw was on their Kings and Queens tour where they rolled out one special guest after another.

Thanks Colin, Steven, Tom and Willie P for all the hours of enjoyment I had listening to your tunes and thanks to you all for reading this post. I hope it was fun and you go on to discover lots more of the music from this gang.