RANDOM RAMBLINGS OF THE MUSICAL MIND

A peak into the mind of John Hampton

two woRds

I am forever confused by a 2 words on every movie ever made….

PRODUCED BY:

Are you wondering what that means? I am. I know what a Record Producer does. He does EVERYTHING! He is a babysitter, a chauffeur,  friend, a teacher AND learner. In fact, Bill Leen, Blossoms’ bassist, asked “Why doesn’t my bass get louder when I PLaY louDer?” I was in error putting a NO LOUDER on his bass. (I learned volume was a major part of their performance.)  He decides what songs are going to be on the record. He, hopefully, has or develops soon after the record starts, a big picture of how the artist will “come off” when the public hears it. In short, that’s what I do. Here’s an example:

At the end of the Tora Tora record, I, as a producer, went to Phoenix, remember, (at Brian Huttenhower’s request … AND expense), and heard Gin Blossoms. They were doing a live show that first night, and I went to meet the band before the show. Although they had a million questions concerning how I would make their first real record, for A&M, I told them I have no comment until I see, with my own eyes, what their live show is all about. I want to know what the strong points and not so strong points were, when it came to performance. Plus, I wanted to see some college girls.

That night at Chuey’s, a U of AZ hot spot in Tempe, they went on at 9PM. And they really did start at 9PM! That’s a good sign. They take it seriously. I watched the crowd to see how they reacted to the band’s performance as well, because these people in the audience ARE the general public, the real record buyers, and I bet that their reaction is directly proportional to sales. If they sing along with the band, those songs are the potential “hits” that eventually the whole world would sing along with. If they went to get another beer during a song, that song had a problem, like bad lyric, too slow, weighty arrangement , etc. It could be used as filler … or on the cutting room floor. Unless the producer can envision it as something else, like faster, in another key, … or on the cutting room floor. Overall, the crowd LOVED the Gin Blossoms. And I think I did , too.

The next day, I met with the band, and now, when they start asking their million questions, I have answers. What songs did you like? Should we even bother cutting this or that? Song X , the one that no one likes , should we try a different arrangement? These were great questions and I gave my responses. We ended up with ten songs that we should cut for sure, and five more that we should try a different approach on. and 2 that were bye-bye. (we say “next record”)

I HAD to get them away from Tempe to cut them. Way too many distractions. So we came to Memphis and just had a lot of fun cutting and singing, and just hanging around. I took them to see Poppa Willie , and they were awed. We went to Graceland. And as usual, they kind of snickered under their breath about Elvis’ style of living, but we ALL fell to our knees (metaphorically) upon entering the trophy room My goodness, Elvis was a god to the entire planet! We all gained a boxcar load of respect by the time we left.

In a nutshell, we had fun, cut a record, and the fun stuck to the tape. And the record buyers of the world sensed that fun, and bought it so that they could have fun with us. And I had just PRODUCED my first multi platinum record. Of course, I could fill a room with this story, and I plan on revisiting these sessions in the future. But for now, that’s enough to digest.

But there’s still ONE burning question. What does a movie producer do? It’s not what I do, according to wikipedia. In fact, I hereby launch my quest to change records from reading PRODUCED BY to DIRECTED BY. The director’s job is almost exactly what I do.

And so far I have done that for Jimmy Vaughan, Robert Cray, Audio Adrenaline, John Kilzer, Big Tent Revival, … a LOT of artists. and I love it!

Next question …