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T Bone Burnett: 'I Don't Really Like Recordings'

 by Keith Goetzman


Tags: Arts, music, recording, studio, T Bone Burnett, Tape Op,

T BoneFrom the first words out of his mouth—“I don’t really like recordings, you know”—veteran producer T Bone Burnett is a font of eccentric studio wisdom in a rambling interview with Tape Op (article not available online), which calls itself “the creative music recording magazine.” As the mastermind behind one of last year’s unexpectedly great albums, Raising Sand by Alison Krauss and Robert Plant, as well as many other first-rate recordings, Burnett has the studio cred to back up his sometimes surprising statements and old-school ways. Here are some of the interview's highlights:

Following up on his opening statement, he explains, “I love recording but I don’t really love recordings. I hardly ever say, ‘Wow! That’s a great recording.’ I say, ‘That’s an incredible song or an incredible piece of music.' ”

“I don’t particularly like processing. What I really like is hearing … a group of musicians playing in a room. … I love the sound of an instrument bouncing off a wall and into a room when you hear that pure, deep sound.”

“I never tell anybody what to play. … Usually the first thing a musician plays is the best thing he’s going to come up with. … I take what they give me and I’m very grateful for it.”

“Everyone [in my studio] knows that tape is rolling all the time. There’s no reason not to record.”

“We’ve developed a system for releasing records called CODE. It’s a system for the production, manufacture, and distribution of records in this age. … We’re gonna offer records in three forms: high-resolution vinyl … high-res digital discs … and high-res files. If you buy any one of those three, we’ll just give you anything else that you want.”

“I don’t blame people for not buying CDs anymore because they’re not as valuable as records were … We’re in a position now where, if you go to a show and hear a band and you buy the CD or MP3—it’s like going to a museum, seeing a painting and then somebody takes a photograph of the painting and then somebody takes a Polaroid of that at then somebody’s trying to sell it to you.”

Stories in the Los Angeles Times and Wired go into more detail about Burnett's CODE music format. "Our aim is to democratize high-fidelity," he tells the Times.

Image courtesy of Tboneburnett.com.