Bob Dylan Captures 2016 Nobel Prize

I hope I helped a little in getting him the Nobel Prize

The announcement that Bob Dylan has been chosen to receive the coveted Nobel Prize for Literature is enough to make anyone stop in their tracks and take notice.

AND I DID TAKE NOTICE

I can truthfully say that I did have a small hand in it in 1975.

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© Nobel Media AB 2016

To hear that Bob Dylan is the Winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition” just blows me away that I have been associated with a Nobel Prize Winner.

“Bob Dylan lands his fourth Multi-Platinum Album with his 1976 hit, ‘Desire.’ Dylan’s most acclaimed albums from the 1960s,” wrote the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) in 2013. I am so Proud to say that I engineered and mixed it and actually produced it while producer Don DeVito watched. Bob Dylan’s “Desire” Album was my best recording and a classic.

 Also, I’m proud to say I did Bob’s Hard Rain album and the celebrated single, Hurricane, from the album was used in the movie. It is most notable that these nine titles are part of Bob’s “Literature Achievement.”

Viewing that RIAA page, I also learned that in other Streisand news, Barbra’s 1967 release, “A Christmas Album,” certified at the five million sales mark. It was the first holiday album by a vocalist to reach the five million level. I am also very proud to say that I mixed that album. I’ll have a few words to say about one of her other albums down the road.

Well, the guys on an Internet forum were intrigued with my explanation there and wanted to know more about the Dylan “Desire” recording, so I wrote some more:

“Thanks guys, for inviting me in. I guess I’m proud to say that “Desire” was one of my best, if not my best recordings and a classic. By the way, Rob Stoner played great bass and Don Devito had the credits read: “This record could have been produced by Don Devito.”

 

desire could have been

Actually, I made all the production decisions, as well as recording, mixing, and mastering. The album made him a vice president for his entire career at Columbia/Sony, and he was gracious and generous to share his CBS bonus with me at that time for my production efforts. But there were no extra bucks after that. I had broken Don in earlier as a trainee in the A&R department, and then he became Walter Yetnikoff’s right hand man. He went on to greater heights with other names. No sour grapes. More on our combined efforts later with Hard Rain. “Desire” has now gone multi-multi-multi-multi platinum and hangs on the Music Wall at Meehan’s Irish Pub in St. Augustine, FL. (Please click on it)

Actually I have a a lot more, at least 30 or more platinum and multi-platinum awards  credited and certified by RIAA, but I’d have to pay the freight if I wanted one or more. I’ve heard that they run about $300 per. Let’s see; 30 X $300 = $9,000. That wouldn’t be very much out of Sony’s billions.

desire platinum

Oh well, at least I have the first Gold and Platinum for “Desire” and a Gold for “Hard Rain.”  On the left is my first Gold for Looking Glass’ “Brandy”

dylan-close-up-at-pub dylan-2-time-front-at-pub The Four Time Multi-Platinum Award hangs in Meehan’s Irish Pub in St. Augustine, FL, established by my late son, John Meehan               Photo by Reggie Maggs

The four million album seller “Desire” all began on or about July 7, 1975 at a recording session in Columbia Records New York Studio E, a small cozy and well equipped little room on the sixth floor of the old Vanderbilt family guest house at 49 East 52nd Street. I had already worked the whole day on another project when I got the word that Bob Dylan and some Columbia executives wanted me there. Don DeVito was Columbia President Walter Yetnikoff”s assistant and I had just recently broken Don in on studio workings and he was there and wanted me there to make things go smooth.

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I ‘m honored to be on each side of Bruce Springsteen’s guitar on Meehan’s Irish Pub‘s Music Wall                                                                                                                                                                            Photo by Reggie Maggs

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On the other side is my 3 time Multi-Platinum Award for Simon and Garfunkel’s Sounds of Silence                                                                                                                Photo by Reggie Maggs

This was Bob’s first session on the new album, I knew from past experience that he liked to record live with absolutely no overdubbing instruments or vocals later. This unnerved me a bit since I had settled into a habit of recording things separately, especially vocals. I had mixed a few of Bob’s songs earlier working with the great John Hammond.

Well, musicians began arriving one after another and at last count, there must have been at least twenty, paying tribute to the great Bob Dylan.

There were no teachers; we learned on our own

I’m sure some readers will scoff and say this is old stuff, or that it is nothing new. But just let me say that we had no teachers. Every engineer guarded his (and I say his because there were no ladies) recording and mastering techniques and gave no clues to anyone coming in new. It was the “good ol’ boys,” the “control men,” the “mastering men,” the “maintenance men,” etc. Every session was an experiment, though, constantly trying new and outlandish and sometimes stupid things. One producer said to me once, “Don, you’re crazy.” Guess I was, as I was always experimenting with something outlandish. And back in those days, the engineers were the unsung heroes for some of the producers.

 

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Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and Emmy Lou Harris in Columbia Studio E on the first night of “Desire” – I’m in the control room hiding behind the board

 

I studied and learned from the Beatles’ records

When the Beatles came along and I saw the meters stay pinned at “0” or plus 4 level throughout a recording this was my clue to go for high energy on anything I recorded or mixed. When I came to Columbia in the 60’s at least 50 staff engineers and research men laughed at me for wanting a limiter and a Pultec in every mixing channel. At that time we had 40 watt monitor amps in the studio and 6 watt line amps in the mixing toms. Later my wants and demands became the norm and Columbia became the busiest studios in New York with 24 track. We could limit and equalize each track at will without patching.

Drums and bass are my favorites to record. Maybe because I’m a bass player too. In the corner of Studio E at Columbia Records at 49 East 52nd Street in NY we had a drum booth sound proofed and double glassed around the top. Dylan always recorded live with no overdubs, (except for the one cut, “Joey”, I talked him into adding accordion and guitar later).

Drums need isolation to prevent leakage into other microphones

It was important to have almost total isolation on drums. As with other drummers, I usually worked with Howie Wyeth for probably an hour or more getting the right sound. My standard procedure was to fold papertowels into about 3 by 5 inch pieces and tape them onto the top of the share with masking tape as he tuned. I would continue to add padding if necessary to get rid of the ring.

This was and is standard procedure for me after a lot of trial and error. I hate the ring of a snare when it isn’t dampened. Needless to say, this is still probably standard procedure anywhere you go. I used all dynamic mics, like Electrovoice RE 15 (on snare), RE 20, etc and 2 condensers for overhead all padded. Nine mics total onto nine tracks on the 24 track, Bass drum (with blankets inside), top of snare, bottom of snare (phase turned around to mix later with top of snare), high hat (pointing away from snare as much as possible), mic on each of 3 toms and 2 overhead. I would always limit the BD, snare and 3 toms, and gate the toms on the session. You really need the isolation for this.

Later in mixing my standard procedure was to gate the bass drum and gate the snare and mix the snare with the original top and bottom (phase turned around to match the top). Bass drum, snare and toms were limited again in the mix. EQ on snare was usually slight boost at around 1500. We had EMT echo units and one 6 floor stairwell. I liked a 4 or 5 second decay on the EMT and fed that to a tape machine at 15ips and back into the mix for the added delay. Echo was always EQ’d rolling off the bass and high end. Bass drum and Rob’s bass cut off at 60 to 100 and boosted at around 100 (and limited) got rid of unneeded low frequencies and allowed more room for everything else including the drums. I’ll have more on the bass and bass drum eq later on.

Update About Simon and Garfunkel’s Sounds of Silence

For all who have tuned into my posts about the lack of credits on my Simon and Garfunkel’s 1965 original mono mix on Sound of Silence, I apologize for not posting some more sooner as I promised. But there will be some important surprising new information which I expect to reveal very soon and a lot more to share with you. I am delighted to see a recent increased record number of visitors here.

Since we are nearing the fiftieth anniversary of Sound of Silence being one of the greatest songs ever written, I will have even more interesting stuff to share with you very soon. It’s the kind of information that you want your great-great grand-kids to know about. Please pass this along to all your friends who have recently visited me here, and ask them to come on back and stay tuned.

Truth About Simon and Garfunkel Sounds of Silence

UPDATE NOV. 30, 2014

Columbia Records, Sony and RIAA have finally gotten it right and issued the proper credit on the single and album in question and here it is. I will be doing a follow up post but meanwhile, here is the RIAA Three Time Multi-Platinum Award with the Official RIAA engraving. No fakes, all genuine. It only took fifty years but is is done.

 

SOS CREDITS

 

And here is the award. Please pass it along to your friends who doubted and some of whom shouted, “sour grapes.”  I am totally proud of this!

 

SOS RIAA AWARD

 

ORIGINAL POST CONTINUES HERE

Simon and Garfunkel could have fixed this credits problem a bunch of years ago, but they didn’t. Paul knew but chose not to and the other guy rode to fame with them.

When it appears that someone may have stolen from you, covers it up, and gets away with it, you have not so fond memories about it with the possible loss of many thousands of $$$ from it hurting you big-time.

No sour grapes intended, but recording credits really do matter. And I could name a couple clichés that might fit. But I just want to finally get the truth out there once and for all to finally set the Simon and Garfunkel story straight on what may be one of the biggest credit thefts in music recording history. Some might say THE biggest. Note that I say “may” and “might” based on my knowledge of the facts. And I’d be willing to swear in an Affidavit that these are the facts.

When I came to Columbia in ’63, I am proud to say, I was the top pop editor-mixer for some time, and favorite of most all of their pop A&R producers. Unspoken was that we actually co-produced with most producers who put it all in our hands of how a record should sound. It was a few years later, when our begging for credits finally became a reality, and I finally got my first Gold Record with the Looking Glass’s Brandy.

In the sixties the norm at Columbia Records was that studio engineers laid down the tracks and we mixers edited and molded the final mix. The studios even had rotary pots. For the layman, those are the volume controls for each microphone or tape track. Any engineer will tell you that they are totally impossible to properly mix with. One could never achieve what I did on the single and the album working with rotary pots. But that’s what the Columbia studios had until our move to Fifty Second Street.

They called us “editors” but we mixed and gave the records the final sound, and then the mastering engineer, with tasteful limiting, not messing with eq, echo and stuff done nowadays in mastering, then got the highest level possible on the disc. Just off the street, and having worked (singing and playing) in just about every studio in town, I was the only engineer at Columbia who knew and understood rock at that time, with my limiters, compressors and equalizers cooking. The other engineers laughed at me and ridiculed me. But I managed to get the highest and hottest level possible for the mastering engineer. Classical producers hated me and one die hard union engineer threatened me when I laid out a musical score on the console to read. That’s another good story.

This was just a few years before we engineers pleaded and begged, and finally got credits on records. But it was too late in this case and a few more. On July 26, 1965, A&R producer Tom Wilson brought some newly overdubbed tracks down from Columbia’s 799 7th Ave Studio A to my mix room 607 to mix. They were Simon and Garfunkel’s original tapes of Sounds (or Sound) of  Silence and Somewhere with Bobby Gregg’s drums and some guitars added, I believe, by Vinnie Bell and Bucky Pizzarelli. I pulled out all the stops and made the mono mix. And here are those mix notes.

 

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My mixing notes from Simon and Garfunkel’s Sounds of Silence mono mix, July 26, 1965

Engineers reading here might notice the heavy high end Pultec equalization boost on the voices, low end roll-off at 60 Hz and 200 Hz boost to get the bass to sound on small speakers like the one I mixed on (See photo). Being a bass player, this was my little secret. It goes without saying that I had a limiter in each of the four channels. Note that, that night and the next day I mixed the great Teo Macero’s Sax Fifth Avenue album, which is out there to this day, and once again with no credit to me. Five days before that, see notes of mixing a Judith Raskin single.

Paul Simon was in Europe at the time, returned a few weeks later and we drove together in my car and played a bar mitzvah club date together in Jersey, whereas I told him of the events. I also moonlighted playing and singing with bands and the bandleaders would usually hire a guitar player to join the conventional dance band to play and sing some rock songs of the day, thus, why Paul was there. His daddy, Lou Simon was my competitor, who also was a bass player with the club date bands. See about Lou Simon 

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My little speaker I used to mix my mono records on, and also use to this day like an earphone to sing 

Their record made it to the top and Simon and Garfunkel were back in the studio and more overdubbing with Tom Wilson (with rotary pots). And here is how it was glossed over in a 2005 interview when the interviewee admitted that Simon and Garfunkel had no idea this was happening, and he said, “Paul was in England and Artie was off teaching somewhere. And we do these overdubs, and it’s released, and Sounds of Silence became a huge hit, and all of a sudden it’s “get these guys back!”

Note that he doesn’t say here that he mixed it, but obviously, to the unwary reader it is implied and understood. It is assumed he did it all. He says “And we do these overdubs, and it’s released.” He obviously forgot what he had said moments before in the interview with the facts about studio and edit-mix rooms at Columbia: “In those days, the studios were studios, the editing room was an editing room, and the mastering room was a mastering room-all separate. Dates were done, the tapes came into an editing room where they were edited and mixed down to a two-track and a mono, from there to a mastering room.”

He says, “the tapes came into an editing room where they were edited and mixed.” Later, as Sounds of Silence was climbing the charts, Tom Wilson came to me to mix the mono Simon and Garfunkel album. And Tom brought Bob Johnston in and he mixed the stereo album with Mike Figlio. Johnston also took all the credit down the line in his interviews. The stereos at that time were really throwaways since mono ruled.

Months later, we moved to 49 East 52nd Street. Unbeknownst to me, the studio engineer had stepped in and taken all the credit obviously implying he was the hero who did it all, especially the original mix and the album mixes, using the studio rotary pots yet. Tom Wilson was no longer there and Bob Johnson was on the scene.

RoughmixdDon overdubbing a world record

Me in 1967 singing with my little speaker using the first one inch 16 track at Columbia. Yeah, that’s the machine they recorded Bridge Over Troubled Waters on.

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Me, today overdubbing and still using the little speaker. Note the Gold Record (The Looking Glass) behind me was one of the first with engineer credits. It would be nice to have one of the Multi-Platinum Awards of Simon and Garfunkel hanging next to it and Dylan’s later Multi- Platinum Desire and Hard Rain.

Then came Bridge Over Troubled Waters. I was proudly moonlighting, paying dues to SAG, AFTRA, Local 802 Musicians Union and Local 1212 Electrical Workers Union, and Clive Davis had signed me to sing four sides on Columbia. So, I booked time through the Columbia A&R Department. I was busily recording my Columbia sides with our new one inch 16 track machine. And then one day, my boss came and ordered me to release it to Simon and Garfunkel and the “other” engineer, and deliver it to them in Studio B.

This was the studio engineer who, from all indications, had taken all the credit for their new hit and was now a big man at Black Rock and Simon and Garfunkel’s hero. There was more behind the scenes politics that had taken place before and after our move to the new studios, whereas we had new mix rooms and some studio engineers were mixing in the studios. So, I rolled the monster on down to Studio B and also invited myself to listen to Cecelia. It was a throwaway. Never make it, they thought. Everyone hated it and I guess I pissed them off when I said it was really good and I liked it. During a break I invited Paul up to my mix room to hear a cover record that Columbia Arranger-Producer Ed Shanaphy had me singing on Sounds of Silence for the Columbia Record Club. He even hired Bucky and Vinnie to play on my cover record. Paul stood there with his mouth open and uttered, “Wow! It sounds like us.” Duh! Well, that, along with my other covers singing Almost Persuaded, Jackson, and Gentle On my Mind, at least it got me AFTRA scale, sounding like the ones who did them originally and had the hits. 

As Paul started to leave the mix room I cornered him and reminded him once again that I had done the original mix that launched them to stardom on Sounds of Silence and his words were, ”But I thought ___ did it.” Right, he did all that fancy mixing in the studio using rotary pots. And I said, “No, man. And I told you all about this on that Jersey club date.”  There was no response but just a blank stare. “Enjoy the machine,” I said, as he walked out. I was still pissed that they interrupted my sessions and  took the 16 track machine away from me. But I was just a nobody.

DON CASHBOX AD - Copy

Well, at least Columbia promoted my Al Kooper creation of House in the Country with a nice big ad in Cashbox 

And so, I had to wait for them to finish “Bridge” before I could finish overdubbing my sides, one of which was a world record of overdubbed voices. Who knows if maybe I had had the mixing credit on Sounds of Silence, my name would have been seen by millions and one of my records may have jumped out there. Weird, that if you click on this website  there is copy of House in the Country for $130. One of my other releases with about thirty overdubbed voices at that time was My Silent Symphony, that you can hear if you click here. I only wish that a DJ somewhere would start playing it again and create a new buzz on it. It still sounds great, I think, and not dated. Tell me what you think with a comment.

After “Bridge” it was more fame and fortune for Simon and Garfunkel with the other guy riding along with his best kept secret about the credits. I guess he was deciding that nothing would be undone since my name would never be printed on the labels and couldn’t prove anything. After all, no one would know nor care. I saw Paul once after that. They had split up and he was in the studio with a different producer-engineer.

I guess I could rationalize and say that maybe the other guy never said he mixed it, but just rode along for the ride with the implication and certainly cashed in. Well, I’d like to undo it and I believe the world needs to know, even if it is almost 50 years later.  I am damn proud of that mix.

I’ll say now to Paul “fix it. You knew. It’s never too late. Since Tom Wilson is no longer with us to dispute other claims by Bob Johnston who also took credit, you knew that I did the mix that started you on the way to being international stars. This is especially after my recently reading that Paul Simon is a 12-time Grammy winner and member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I can truthfully say that I was also one who helped you get there.

Strangely, the Columbia box #5029  that I initialed containing the mono tape and signed on that date, was replaced and the mono tapes and mono album that I mixed were nowhere to be found according to a source. They don’t exist. But my mix & equalizer notes do exist from that day and those notes are here for all to see. And I don’t lie. And if anyone disbelieves my notes, I invite you to have them checked for the timing of the forty-nine or so years that have passed, and the age of the paper. Of course, there will be doubters. There always are and I guess they’re entitled. But if they want to do any proving, they can play the stereo and the mono side by side and listen for the extreme high end EQ and play on small speakers and check the bass on my mixes.

And so, I propose that Columbia/Sony take the mono vinyl album and re-master it with the proper credit and give some credit where credit is due.

A Great Event Is About To Happen In The Audio Industry

 

I’ve been so doggone busy with my Indiegogo Campaign that I have neglected to post any new posts. So let me just say that probably the most important words I can say here right now is to ask all my readers to support me in my campaign to promote my newly issued Patent on my Miniaturized Loudspeaker Placement Platform. After four years of frustrating times, some of which were told here, it finally came in February.

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And I  AM SHOUTING THAT IT IS THE NEWEST AND MOST FABULOUS WAY TO LISTEN TO SURROUND SOUND

 

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 John Fox enjoying a video game

And I’d like for you to be part of the team making the next big leap into the world of listening to music, movies and playing video games in 5.1.

This is my invitation to one and all to come aboard for a most exciting adventure. I need your help to promote my recently Patented miniature 5.1 surround sound listening system of loudspeaker placement.

First, if I reach my goal, I’ll be showing it at America’s largest Inventors Trade show, INPEX (Invention And New product Exposition) in June at Pittsburgh’s David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

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My Patent is based on my startling discovery that little loudspeakers can sound  the same at a few INCHES away, as they do at a few FEET away.

Hundreds of the biggest and best companies in the US will be at the Inpex Show, scouting to find, and take on new and unique inventions either by buying a patent outright or licensing to manufacture and sell. I will consider all ways.

You probably know that the costs for exhibiting in a high class trade show like this one can be very  high, and individuals, as well as companies, spend thousands to put their best foot forward.

Soon after the show, if we get the funds, I’ll introduce and demonstrate the invention to fellow recording engineers and mixers, audio enthusiasts, and speaker companies in Philadelphia, New York and Nashville. I’ll also be inviting the press.

I’ve included the budget at the Indiegogo site, and if we exceed that amount, I’ll just keep plugging away, and show in more places like Chicago and L.A., and maybe more, and try to get on national TV. And if we go way over, I might even consider starting a company to make and distribute the platforms.

If you make a pledge of any amount, you’ll be invited to one of the showings, and you can bring your favorite video game, music or movies to try it out, or just bring yourself.

We’ll mount an extensive press campaign to all the trades with our 600 word releases also going to at least 100,000 journalists, twice.

Thus, the newly Patented Miniaturized Loudspeaker Placement Platform

 

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NOW IT CAN BE “MINI-FIELD” 

INSTEAD OF “NEAR-FIELD” – AND ONLY INCHES AWAY

So, a movie, music or a game addict, and even we STUDIO engineers, can crank it up at 3 AM, and not bother the neighbors. But now, I really need you to make a PLEDGE.

It was hard to come up with perks and incentives related to my invention, so, I decided to offer some of the finest dining places in the country and some famous jazz, country, classical, and Irish music places as perks and here’s a few:

New York’s

21 Club

Four Seasons

Carnegie Deli

Birdland

NY Philharmonic Orch. at Lincoln Center

Meehan’s Irish Pub in St. Augustine, FL

Philly’s Old Ship Moshulu Restaurant

Grand Ole Opry 

So, how did all of this come about?

I got the idea a few years ago when I was shooting my miniatures. I’m also a miniature craftsman and have made little working chandeliers, some of which are in museums.  was writing my book, The Fine Art of Photographing Miniatures, especially chandeliers and rooms, and how to make them look like they’re real and FULL size. I was setting up the lighting and the camera to shoot a colonial room my wife had built.

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 Note that the camera is only inches away at that established eye level of about four inches (four feet) off the floor

Seeing as how the furniture and chandelier looked so real at only a few inches away, I wondered how little SPEAKERS might sound from inches away. So, I went to work experimenting, and my research revealed that the intensity of sound levels drops off in inches just like it does in feet, and in the same proportions. Acting the same as light does in its intensity, they both follow the Inverse Square Law. The Patent Examiners, after intensive searching “prior art” Patents, found that no one had ever come up with this idea and after four years, issued my Patent.

Thus, the newly Patented Miniaturized Loudspeaker Placement Platform.

So I am asking everyone who reads this to help me get to that important show, where I can shout it all out to those important companies and then on to the three big city demonstrations RECORDING PROFESSIONALS AND SPEAKER COMPANIES. And, with your much needed help, that right company will find us, and we’ll get the word out to everyone. Make a pledge and I’ll appreciate it, MORE than you’ll ever know. And if you can get to Pittsburgh, I will be getting a limited number of badges to see the show. If not at Pittsburgh, at least you’re invited to one of the demonstrations. Well, I hope to see you there.

Oh, I forgot to mention that my smart ass-istant “Buck” made the first pledge of a buck and wanted change for a five..

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Wouldn’t keep his mouth shut

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And he finally got “all wrapped up.”

 And now, he is one of the perks.

 

 

Super Bowl should be two games (and one more if there is a tie) Also added about races

Super Bowl and/or Sudden Death in Any Race Sucks

As of April 16, 2014, I am adding my thoughts to this post to include any game or race that ends with seconds or a fraction of a second of a winner being declared the champion. I have watched over and over about horse races being won by a hair, and of course, I’ve expressed below about the Super Bowl, any and all contests which imply that second place is just isn’t good enough to be declared a champion or the champion. I can relate to the awful feeling of losing a race or a game by such a very small amount of time, or twist of fate.

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Home page of Smyrna Yacht Club Site

I was drawn to follow the Smyrna Beach, Florida Regatta over the past weekend, where my son, John, of Meehan’s Irish Pub in St Augustine (some of the best damn food in Florida) was racing his sailboat in the annual event. The Smyrna Yacht Club Website states above on the homepage:  “This is the one sailing event in the southeastern United States where you have a chance to have your name engraved for posterity on a historic Lipton Cup Trophy…Such a historic trophy sits in the trophy case at Smyrna Yacht Club…”

The race was three days and I was kind of heartbroken to receive this from John when he  wrote:

“This is amazing and upsetting. We lost a place in first race by two seconds, lost 1st place in second race by 12 seconds and lost first place in last race by 38 seconds. If we were 52 seconds faster over three races we would have won the entire event. It just shows every second and detail counts.”

But seconds away from first place doesn’t mean he is not a champion, and I guess I’ll go on forever with those thoughts, and not to echo the words, “better luck next time,” since I understand the work and the determination to be out there striving to be the very best you can be. And I really know that John was the very best that he can be. And in my books, he is a true winner and champion! And I am damn proud! CONGRATLATIONS JOHN!

 Now, on to thoughts about the Superbowl.

There should be at least two games in the Super Bowl. The sudden death thing is totally unfair, I believe. Two great teams and maybe one little screw-up in the last minutes doesn’t make that team inferior and shouldn’t cost them the crown. Two games could be a better way of deciding the champions. And then, if they screw up again they are a decided loser. And if they both win one, then play a third one.

Not much in this post about music and recording, except that when I am practicing my piano and guitar scales on the weekend, I’m usually glued to the TV watching football games. And I have to say that there is nothing more exciting than to watch a football game in the last one or two minutes with all the suspense of each team striving to win, with a crowd of fifty to seventy-five thousand screaming, and NFL transmitting to millions all over the globe. And suddenly, someone fumbles, or there is an interception, or some other little goof by one player, or a sack, a missed pass, onside kick gone bad, or running the clock down in the last seconds. All of these things happen to even the best teams with the best players. And who is the best team when one wins a game early in the season and loses to the other team later on?

Is it really fair that one of these little screw-up’s can decide the champ, especially at the Super Bowl? I don’t think so, and I’d like to spread the word with my thinking and hope we can get a campaign going. All of these things seem to prove that more than one game is needed to win as world champions. It seems apparent that a series is in order or at least two games. What do you think? I think it is really unfair and should follow the lead of the World Series and there should be two games, and a third to break a tie. And if that one is sudden death then so be it, since they both had their shot at it. But at least it would be more fair than the way it is now.

The suspense that would be created is beyond words, plus it would be giving the opportunity for many more thousands to see the games most probably in two different cities in two or three weekends. This is not to mention the many millions more that would be spent by fans attending the games, plus the million dollar thirty second ads for the network.

 

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Beaumont High School football star, Max Greiner

My first fascination with football began with my photography interests, when my close-up photo of my sister’s cat was in a national contest up against Beaumonter (Texas) photographer, Dick Fullbright’s photo of Beaumont High’s coach, L.B. Griffith in a tense moment at the bench during a game telling star football player Max Greiner what to do. Dick won first place and I got “Honor of Achievement” which encouraged me to be a photographer for the rest of my school days. And that year found me with my lousy camera, photographing for the yearbook, all the players, the teams, Greiner, and friend J.P. (Big Bopper) Richardson, who was also a star player,

 

JP AND max

J.P. (Big Bopper) Richardson #85   Max Greiner #82

Next, I decided that I wanted to play football and I went out for the try outs. Well, I was all suited up in my armor, and the coach lined us up to tackle the runners from the A team. Little did I know. I stood there crouched as Max Greiner came flying at me with the ball at God knows how many miles per hour. Next thing I knew, I was on the ground not knowing what hit me. Well, that was it for me and playing football. I learned later from J.P., who was also kicking some butt out there, that this was a tactic of the coaches to weed out some of us dummies who thought we could be football stars; have the star players throw us on our butts. He would put the biggest and strongest all-stars he had out there to discourage us wannabes. And after that, I assure you that I did not wannabe a football player. I wished that J.P had told me sooner but then he said it was a secret the coaches didn’t want to get out.

JP RICHARDSON 004

 

Well, Max Greiner starred for four years on the Texas A&M team and I never saw him again, and of course, you know about J.P. Never had to tangle with J.P. We stood side by side in the chorus singing tenor for that year.

It’s kind of funny though that every time I turn on a football  game I think of those times and those guys, and laugh about it and think of how much I love to watch games nowadays. When the weekend comes I usually have a game on no matter what I might be doing. In fact, right now I am channeling back and forth between a Carolina and Miami game and a New York Jets and Baltimore game. Forty-six seconds to go and Carolina scores four over Miami. Now with thirty-eight seconds to go Miami is trying hard to score and win. Ten seconds to go and a pass is missed on the one yard line. One more play and he can’t find a receiver. He’s sacked and its over, Carolina by four. Had that receiver caught that pass with ten seconds to play, Miami would have won. It was long and right into his hands but he missed it. And that’s the way it goes with football. The network quickly goes to a load of commercials and then to Minnesota and Green Bay tied at twenty-six even and in sudden death overtime and three minutes to play. Back and forth and now it’s two minutes to go. Green Bay has it now with one minute to go. Then it was twenty-four seconds with Green Bay on their own twenty. Now, it is one second and it wraps up with a tie. And here I thought there had to be a winner.

Later, in another game Dallas, in the last ten seconds broke a tie with a field goal over the New York Giants.

So, it is these kinds of last minute happenings that really make a sudden death one game Super Bowl unfair. And what happens in the Super Bowl with a game tied like this one? There’s not a winner? I wish there was a channel that would take only the last two minutes of all the games and transmit them, especially the close ones. That would be most exciting. But let’s hear it for having two Super Bowl games and one to break a tie.

How Your Record Can Sound Big and Bold And Compete With the Best

I’ve written this post to give some simple tips on how to compare your recording or demo with the top songs on the charts. You need no training, fancy pro mixing-editing programs, tutorials or hours of studying to do this test. There are only a few short steps and it only takes a few minutes. For those of you not having access to any of  the professional programs, such as Logic, Reaper, Vegas Pro, ProTools, Cubase, Nuendo, Acid pro, etc., I am going to share some engineer secrets and give a simple recommendation for you to discover this phenomenon of possible deficiencies with your song on your own. And it will be at no cost of having to buy any expensive professional recording equipment or programs as stated. But if you do have one of the above, I assume you know what to do.

Naturally, songs you hear on the radio or iTunes in the top of the chart positions have been mixed to the fullest extent by professionals on those programs, and mastered with other great equipment, programs and plugins. These critical procedures give the listener the loudest possible level and best sound that will compete with the next record. No matter what, there is an absolute limit with digital levels and if you are not at that limit or close to it with a record that doesn’t sound over limited or compressed, then you are not in the same league and can’t compete.

Most people, I believe, when surfing and listening here and there to music will have their volume control set at a certain level to listen either on earphones or speakers judging and comparing what they hear to their own record. But you cannot make a fair comparison between two recordings unless you have the two side by side, back to back listening and comparing under the same identical conditions.

This comparison I speak of is not easy for the casual listener not having the right tools to A-B it, as we engineers call it. For instance, you might have a CD of your song and put it on to listen, and then throw so and so’s number one hit on, and then yours again, and back and forth and try to make a comparison or determination. It is impossible. You really need to see and hear the wave-forms next to each other.

Therefore, the solution is to have the two cuts, or sides, or MP3’s, or wav files side by side, with facilities to have them play back independent of each other and to be able to instantly switch back and forth and compare levels. Engineers with the proper professional DAW programs, and/or home based studios also with professional setups, are able to easily and quickly make those comparisons.

This comparison is an absolute must when professional mixing, with the adjustments being made thoughtfully and with very special care. This means evening out a vocal performance, leveling out the instruments, equalizing unwanted and unneeded frequencies, limiting and/or compressing the singer and certain instruments to deliver the needed energy and presence to make the record sound no less than great. This, of course, relies on the condition that the song, vocal, arrangement and musicians are delivering the best possible performance. The final touch up is then up to the mastering engineer.

Once you see what to look for and the obvious solutions, then it is up to you to correct your recording to fit the standards of the highest level possible. Otherwise, you will be sending it out there to stations, companies, publishers, etc, putting it on YouTube, SoundCloud, OurStage.com, and ReverbNation.com etc, and wondering why no one even notices it or gives you any feed back. But then, it’s all too late since your free or low price mixing and mastering persons or your mixing and mastering efforts just weren’t up to snuff.

AUDACITY ONE TRACK

Photo 1 – The Free consumer program Audacity with a song loaded

Go to http://audacity.sourceforge.net/download/ and download the free and simple consumer program “Adacity” and install it. The program is provided for both the Mac and PC, and there is no studying involved, unless you are just so fascinated with what you see that you are hooked into learning more.  Be aware that when something is free, they succeed in sneaking in other programs on your computer while it is downloading. A simple solution to this after you install it is to go to “Uninstall a Program” and see what they sneaked in for the day you are working and simply uninstall them. In my case they sneaked three by me that I did not want.

For ease, have your two MP3’s, (or wav files) on the desktop. Click on Audacity and the program will come up on your monitor. Simply drag one of the files over onto the Audacity work space. You will immediately see the waveform of the file laid out in its entirety on the timeline as in Photo 1, end to end with the time in minutes over the top. At the upper right you’ll see plus (+) and minus (-) signs and clicking on them will make the track extend longer or shorter on the time line. Next to the minus sign is a sign to “fit selection” that will have the track fit the width of the timeline, which in this case is about 3:35 minutes.

At the very bottom of the track to the left, there is a tiny arrow like this ^ that when you click on it, it reduces the size of the track vertically and shows that little arrow pointing down like a v, which will restore the vertical height back to the larger size when you click on it.

AUDACITY TWO TRACKS

Photo 2 Audacity with additional song loaded 

Now click on the other track on the desktop that we are comparing and drag it over onto the work space under the other track.  See photo 2  It runs 2:30, and much shorter than the other. A quick glance without even listening tells us that the first track is fatter, and has more energy than the second track. Click on the plus sign a few times and both tracks will stretch out as in photo 3, whereas you can see even more strength in the first track.

ENLARGED TRACKS TO COMPARE

Photo 3 – Audacity with the tracks stretched showing more detail

Now it’s time to listen. Set your earphones or speakers to a comfortable listening level and familiarize yourself wih the SOLO & MUTE buttons at the left end of the tracks. Move the mouse to the timeline above the tracks, anywhere you choose but for instance do it at one minute and a finger will point there and the music will play. Solo the two back and forth as quickly as possible and you will now have a perfect A-B-ing between your record and whatever you are comparing it with.

If it doesn’t match up, I strongly advise you to go back to your mixing and mastering people to show them the lack of energy and levels and how it doesn’t stand up to the competition and that you must shoot for a hotter mix to equal that number one hit. If you get an argument, then maybe it is time to find other engineers who know better. I’m here at your service and can eMix anything with any number of tracks. And I guarantee that your mix will match whatever you want me to match, provided your tracks are the best they can be.

over level peak

Photo 4 Enlarged section showing  peak over the Zero limit

On most all top recordings you will see high levels that compare to the ones in photo 1, whereas the overall average stays close to zero throughout the recording with good limiting and compressing. Lastly, a most critical situation to be aware of is peaks that go above digital zero and cause distortion. Zooming in on the lower track as in photo 4 , we see that there is one peak in the whole song at 151.7350 seconds (the red mark) that goes over and can cause distortion.

As high as the levels are in the first song, they never go over zero since they are obviously controlled by limiting and compression. The work of the mixing and mastering engineer, finally, is to use his/her skills with equalization, physical riding of levels and careful limiting and compression of all the elements to bring it all together into a successful final recording.

 

 

 

 

Elvis, Hank and Me – and Steve, Tom, Horace, Chet, Owen, Tommy and Jerry

CONTINUED

When the Opry fired Hank Williams in 1952 for drinking too much, Horace Logan hired him for the Louisiana Hayride. When the Opry told a teenage Elvis Presley to stick to truck-driving, Logan gave him a break, but of course with the same help that Steve Sholes and Tom Parker gave me earlier. And it was at the same $18 a show that he had paid me two years earlier. The experiences with the two stars, Hank Williams and Elvis Presley, provided Logan’s title for his 1998 memoir, “Elvis, Hank and Me: Making Musical History on the ‘Louisiana Hayride.'” Others may have referred to the “Hayride” as the “Junior Grand Ole Opry.” Logan preferred to call the Opry “the Tennessee branch of the ‘Hayride.'” Twenty-seven radio stations in four states were carrying the Hayride and in December of that year, 1952, the CBS Radio Network picked up the Hayride. Boy, did I miss out.

What a bad pill to swallow, having to leave the Hayride. I went on to Fort Sam Houston, Texas Army Reception Center on August 19, 1952, and my vocal talents were immediately accepted and recognized there. I filled in for Vic Damone on the weekly Fourth Army Band broadcasts while he was on furlough. Then, they told me they wanted me there after basic training to replace Vic Damone. Fine with me, I thought.

We were there two weeks, then they shipped us to Camp Rucker, Alabama in the Third Army area for four months of basic training, with assurances that I would then go back to Fort Sam. It didn’t happen. There were other plans for me to stay in the Third Army area. I found out later by chance who orchestrated this and why.

Commanding General A.R. Bolling’s chauffeur, a sergeant, bunked with our show cast and band at Third Army Headquarters, and was also just one of the guys we’d hang out with. One night, the two of us struck up a conversation, and I told the story of how I was supposed to go back and replace Vic Damone at Fourth Army. He said he would tell me a little secret about me being where I was if I promised to never ever tell anyone

He proceeded to tell me that he had overheard a telephone conversation with his boss, General Bolling, back in late ’52 or early ’53, talking to whom he thought was Fourth Army General White. He indicated that it appeared to be a very heated conversation about this singer that the other general had wanted back at Fourth Army to sing with the band there. The sergeant said his boss told the other general that he was sorry but he needed this guy here in Atlanta for his traveling show and also to sing with his band. The sergeant indicated that the singer was me. I was so damned important and didn’t even know it.

We did seventeen weeks of basic which ended the last week in December, 1952, and a much deserved furlough, and I was assigned to the Camp Rucker Band when I would return. I had made plans to meet Steve Sholes and Chet Atkins in Nashville on my furlough after basic, the first week in January to do my record session. But I developed a bad cold and laryngitis and had to cancel. So I headed for my mom’s house in Beaumont on a bus. I’ll never forget while passing through Hank Williams boyhood hometown of Montgomery, Alabama on January 1, 1953, and hearing the news of his death.

There would be no more days off to go to Nashville for a while. It so happened that I’d have a couple days off after the talent contest in Fort McClellan, mentioned in another post. So I set it up to be in Nashville on Valentines Day 1953, the day after the contest. It turned out to be a double session with Porter Wagoner in the morning and me in the afternoon. Here’s how Porter’s sessions were listed:  14 February 1953 [09:30-12:30] Thomas Productions, 109 13th Ave. North, Nashville, TN – Porter Wagoner (Chet Atkins, Velma Smith, Don Davis, Charles Grean, Dale Potter, John Gordy. Producer: Stephen Sholes) and it lists the songs. Evidently, it was Porter’s band plus Chet and Charlie Grean.

I was all set to record all of my own songs when Sholes threw out all but one, That Long Long Road of Love.  He wanted me to do a cover on Seven Lonely Days, which was climbing the charts. I was proud as could be to be recording with Chet Atkins, Owen Bradley, Tommy Jackson, and Jerry Byrd. There were some great solos by Chet and Tommy Jackson, and Sholes used that long echo that he used later on Elvis. I wanted to modulate and go up a half step but they wouldn’t let me. Modulating a country song to another key was unheard of. It was like a curse and not country. It is commonplace today to change keys and it would be interesting to know who was the first  country artist to do it. I wanted to be but it was too New York at that time. Thinking back on it, since the song was in the key of G, they’d have to go up to Ab and I wondered if some of the players could play in that key. It wasn’t a so-called country key.

So, I braved the rest of the Army days, singing with the band and working at the service club. That final day was arriving fast. I couldn’t decide whether to head for Nashville or New York.

TO BE CONTINUED