Saturday, June 23, 2007

Language Lessons

Ever since my recent trip to Memphis, I've become a music documentary DVD junkie, and this week I re-watched a most excellent profile on the life of legendary producer Tom Dowd.  You may not know his name, but unless you're deaf or have lived in a Third World country for the last 50 years or are just plain brain dead, you're familiar with this man's body of work.  There's a better than good chance his name is on the back of more than a few of the albums/CDs in your collection, because he produced the likes of The Allman Brothers, Ray Charles, Derek And The Dominoes, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Neil Young, Charles Mingus, James Brown, Eric Clapton, John Coltrane, Rod Stewart, Wilson Pickett, Cream, Lynyrd Skynyrd—even my boys Black Oak Arkansas—and many many others.  Can you say prolific?!?

The DVD, Tom Dowd-The Language of Music was filmed just prior to Dowd's death in 2002, and his stories and recollections are priceless, as are those of Clapton, Gregg Allman and others he worked with over the years.  It also features one of the more majestic musical instruments on this planet--the grand piano that the second half of "Layla" was played on.  Mr. Dowd just had a knack for bringing out the best in the musicians he worked with, and he also seemed like a genuinely nice man and was well-respected by all.  Well worth a look if you're into "behind-the-scenes" music stuff like I am.

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