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Producing Country

The Inside Story of the Great Recordings

Michael Jarrett

Publication Year: 2014

Musicians make music. Producers make records. In the early days of recorded music, the producer was the “artists-and-repertoire man,” or A&R man, for short. A powerful figure, the A&R man chose both who would record and what they would record. His decisions profoundly shaped our musical tastes. Don Law found country bluesman Robert Johnson and honky-tonk crooner Lefty Frizzell. Cowboy Jack Clement took the initiative to record Jerry Lee Lewis (while his boss, Sam Phillips, was away on business). When Ray Charles said he wanted to record a country-and-western album, Sid Feller gathered songs for his consideration. The author’s extensive interviews with music makers offer the fullest account ever of the producer’s role in creating country music. In its focus on recordings and record production, Producing Country tells the story of country music from its early years to the present day through hit records by Hank Williams, George Jones, Patsy Cline, Buck Owens, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Waylon Jennings, and Merle Haggard, among many others.

Includes original interviews with producers Chet Atkins, Pete Anderson, Jimmy Bowen, Bobby Braddock, Harold Bradley, Tony Brown, Blake Chancey, Jack Clement, Scott Hendricks, Bob Johnston, Jerry Kennedy, Blake Mevis, Ken Nelson, Jim Ed Norman, Allen Reynolds, Jim Rooney, James Stroud, Paul Worley, and Reggie Young, among others.

Published by: Wesleyan University Press

Title Page, Series Page, Funding, Copyright Page, Dedication

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pp. i-viii

Contents

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pp. ix-xiv

List of Illustrations

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pp. xv-xvi

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xvii-xviii

One of my iPods holds the fifty-something recorded interviews that, excerpted, compose this book. These interviews form an oral history of country record production that is actually oral—actually audible. I conducted all of them. I spoke with every single person featured in this book (spoke with all but one by telephone). I recorded and transcribed every word they said....

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Introduction

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pp. xix-xxiv

Cowboy Jack Clement knew a thing or two about record production. He made the first recordings of Jerry Lee Lewis, while his boss, Sun Records’ Sam Phillips, was away at a music-industry event. Here’s something Clement told me:...

Biographical Sketches

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pp. xxv-xxxii

Ocerture: What is a Record Producer?

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pp. 1-10

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1. Cutting Tracks: Capturing the Performance, 1927–1949

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pp. 11-32

Very soon after 1877, the invention that Edison called a phonograph articulated in such a way as to serve the interests of corporate capital; which is to say, technologies for recording and reproducing sound worked to the distinct advantage of newly formed record companies— not musicians. Entertainment companies, in the guise of their designees, artists and repertoire (A&R) men, managed musical production by controlling all facets of preproduction....

Interlude: The Producer as Director

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pp. 33-36

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2. Taping Tracks: Creating the Performance, 1950–1966

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pp. 37-102

At first, in the early ’50s, magnetic tape was used as simply a new medium to do an old job: to capture musical performances. But a quick look at the recordings discussed in this chapter suggests an ensuing paradigm shift. Tape—mono, three-, and four-track— enabled the emergence of the record producer as a fully formed, recognizable figure. He distinguishes himself, less by what he captures...

Interlude: Studio Matters

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pp. 103-112

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3. Multitracking: Constructing the Performance, 1967–1991

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pp. 113-206

Multitracking means that sound can be edited not just horizontally, with one piece of tape joined to another, but vertically, with the tracks stacked or layered. Notable record albums of the mid-’ 60s were effects of experiments in multitracking that used four-track tape recorders:...

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Interlude: The Writer as Producer—An Interview with Bobby Braddock

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pp. 207-216

Best known as a legendary songwriter, Braddock has seen at least one of his songs top Billboard’s country chart every decade for the last fifty years. Among his compositions are “He Stopped Loving Her Today” (George Jones),“D-I-V-O-R-C-E” (Tammy Wynette), “Time Marches On” (Tracy Lawrence), and “I Wanna Talk about Me” (Toby Keith). He worked as producer on Blake Shelton’s first five albums....

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4. Encoding Tracks: Compositing the Performance, 1992–Present

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pp. 217-274

The most interesting feature of the digital-recording paradigm—announced by the 1992 introduction of ADAT (“Alesis Digital Audio Tape”) and by the subsequent adoption of DAW s (“digital audio workstations”)— is music-industry resistance to any implication of the technology deemed radical. For example, available technology (my laptop...

Index

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pp. 275-287

About the Author

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p. 288-288

Images

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pp. 289-304


E-ISBN-13: 9780819574657
E-ISBN-10: 0819574651
Print-ISBN-13: 9780819574633

Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2014

Series Title: Music/Interview

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Subject Headings

  • Country music -- Production and direction -- History.
  • Sound recording executives and producers -- United States -- Interviews.
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