A Producer’s Dream – Halloween Night in Nashville.
A guest post by Stephen Wrench
I remember the night well; it was Halloween night, 1985. I was in Nashville working with a good friend, the late great producer, Neil Wilburn. Neil’s credits include Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Waylon and Willie and many others. I was working with Neil on a song for Dwight Goodin, a Met’s pitcher, winner of the Cy Young Award. This was before “pro tools” and “voice correction” and to no avail we spent the evening coaching Dwight to sing well enough for a record release. We decided to break for Halloween. Neil wanted me to ride by the studio with him to visit his friend, Keith Stegall who was working on a song written by Don Schlitz.
As I entered the studio I met a young artist. When he opened his mouth to sing something magical happened. The band played with passion and the music that was created that night created a legend. The artist was Randy Travis and the song was “On The Other Hand”.
I observed Keith Stegall, the producer, as he was able to recognize a great song and determine where to go artistically and stylistically. That song/album not only launched Travis’s career, it reset the genre’s direction for the next decade.
That Halloween Night is a night that I will never forget as I was able to learn from some of the greatest producers and be a witness to history in the making. It was a dream Halloween Night for this producer.
The longer I am in this business I realize that great producers are one part psychologist, two parts music expert, and three parts psychic. A great producer can actually “hear” what a production should sound like before it’s even recorded. A great producer will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, allowing you to focus on creating music with real passion behind it. The kind that “makes the hair stand on your arms”.
Since that fateful night, I have continued to be blessed to work with many artists. Whether it has been with a budding indie artist or an established artist, my goal is the same – to help artists create their music to match the stories they want to share with the world; to create some of that “magic” I was fortunate to have witnessed on that Halloween Night.