Wade in the waters of Muscle Shoals

Just saw the exquisitely made Muscle Shoals documentary, captivatingly directed by Greg “Freddy” Camalier with gorgeous cinematography by Anthony Arendt.


RewindThe richness and feeling of the visuals complements its subject in paying tribute to the beauty and mastery of America’s indigenous twentieth century sounds.

It is the story of some of the greatest music ever created at two fabled recording studios — Rick Hall’s FAME Music and the 3614 Jackson Highway studio AKA Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, not far away that was opened by his former house band, the SwampersBarry Beckett (keyboards), Roger Hawkins (drums), Jimmy Johnson (guitar) and David Hood (bass). [Unfortunately, the two studios are often conflated as one and the same; see below for clarification.] Each has its own contribution to music recording history of the American south(east); each has made indelible art that will continue to provide extraordinary insights of our collective joys and bittersweet heartaches via bluesy grooves and outstanding storytelling.

Here’s a preview. Soak it in. 🙂


Rick Hall’s FAME Studios


3614 Jackson Highway Muscle Shoals Sound Studios













See also:

Aretha Franklin to The Black Keys: The Muscle Shoals Story (both FAME and Muscle Shoals Sound Studios)

The Muscle Shoals Music Foundation, “to enhance the legacy and sustain the future of the legendary Muscle Shoals sound.”

Legendary Muscle Shoals Sound Studios historic building to be revived by Dr. Dre’s Beats Electronics



Where Music History Happened…

I discovered this

Ramones: then & now

while looking for information about the defunct Seventh Avenue Studios of Columbia Records in New York City (later Phil Ramone’s A&R Studios), as it was a site for landmark recordings crafted from legendary music performances.

PopSpots – Album Cover Locations and Pop Culture Spots Rewindincludes photo snaps from Neil Young to Steely Dan and Kiss to Bob Dylan album covers, as well as films and more.


Song analysis for Don Felder’s Hotel California by The Eagles

RewindHarmonically deconstructed

The Eagles’ “Hotel California” Song Analysis

and a straight up lesson from the Don himself…  Play

UPDATE: A lengthy sit-down with Don to discuss his music, his playing style, his gear and his book, “Heaven and Hell: My Life as an Eagle.”

Is Data Now King? Tech and the Continual Music Stream

Notes to self from the conference presented by NYU’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, November 7th, 2014.


Stream-Tech Music Conference

Postscript: random, lingering notes

  • Quite a while ago, I wrote this note to myself: context—not content—is now king. And here we were being reminded that it is Data—not the context—that deserves the crown.


  • For the music user, there is a paradigmatic shift from collecting music to user experience and portability. It is the old versus the new.

  • Thinking about how that shift plays out as it relates to creating a podcast about music…accessing data and info about music is already at everyone’s fingertips so why would anyone listen to a conventional (radio type of) “show” to get what a sidebar and simultaneous tap or search will deliver instantaneously at the user’s convenience and non-linearly? Good framing question.

  • And a reminder of my old mantra for what it’s worth:

“Respect and promote the art of the segue” (especially outside the club and away from the dance floor).

Grateful for The Dead? Hard to say

RewindThe Grateful Dead has always only held very limited appeal to me. A great jam band? OK; if you saw them live amid the communal haze and under some mind-altering influence then it probably holds up. Yet so many of the studio recordings have such little sensibility for how recordings are made. Believe it or not, records must actually be purposefully produced and not simply document a session. Why? Because recordings are an artifice by their very nature, and to create a listening experience that rises above mere documentary requires an accounting of esthetic, texture, dimensionality and more to provide for transcendent listening in private spaces. Are the recordings purposeful as to their exposé of its rough-hewn methodology? Undoubtedly. And maybe that’s the disconnect. Do we want that type of authenticity, or don’t we really want to reconstitute the magic of the live amalgam that is their music *and* their atmosphere—which includes the communal bonding and the mind alterations?
Jerry and bears. Source:

1970’s Workingman’s Dead and some tracks from American Beauty are all that I keep in my collection because it actually sounds pretty good—it has a lot of heart, no pretense, and captures what is now a nostalgia for the roots feeling of the time. And the dismal truth is it’s so many miles away from the horrid Shakedown Street less than a decade later that it’s embarrassing to think it’s the same band (but if you account for the drugs and booze then maybe not).

And this New Yorker article explains very clearly why that is.

Here’s only a brief excerpt from a generously crafted and evenly circumspect essay on The Dead by a lifelong fan, Nick Paumgarten:

“What’s to hate? Even the fanatic can admit to a few things. The Dead were musically self-indulgent, and yet, to some ears, harmonically shallow. They played one- and two-chord jams that went on for twenty or thirty minutes. One live version of “Dark Star,” a modal vamp based on the A mixolydian scale, with two short verses and no bridge, clocked in at forty-eight minutes…. Even their straightforward songs could go on for ten or twelve minutes. Pop-craft buffs, punkers, and anyone steeped in the orthodoxy of concision tend to plug their ears to the noodling, while jazz buffs often find it unsophisticated and aimless. The Dead’s sense of time was not always crisp. It’s been said that the two drummers, in the eighties, sounded like sneakers in a dryer…. They could be sloppy, unrehearsed. They forgot lyrics, sang out of key, delivered rank harmonies, missed notes, blew takeoffs and landings, and laid down clams by the dozen. Their lyrics were often fruity—hippie poetry about roses and bells and dew. They resisted irony. They were apolitical. They bombed at the big gigs. They unleashed those multicolored dancing bears.”

You can read all thirteen pages at The New Yorker from November 26th, 2012