30 Minutes With T Bone Burnett Page 3

Are there any vinyl records you'd hold up as benchmarks of sound quality? One I would point to would be [engineer] Al Schmitt's recording of Ray Charles and Betty Carter on Dedicated to You [1961], their duet album where they do "Baby, It's Cold Outside." I think it's the greatest live recording ever. That's one you can A-B the vinyl and the digital and really see what a tremendous loss there is.

Then there are things like those high notes in "A Day in the Life" on Sgt. Pepper's, where the orchestra goes into that, what do you call it, ascent. On the mono vinyl album, you can turn it up all the way, and the whole room you're in just sings. If you turn the digital version up that loud, you have to leave the room. It's just painful.

The Sgt. Pepper's CD came out June 1, 1987, and they've never gone back and remastered it. Right. It's some kind of low bit rate.


Have you listened to surround sound music discs at all? I haven't. I'm still hung up on mono. [chuckles] We do surround mixes for movies, so I'm familiar with the process. I like it a lot, too.

Just listening to The True False Identity, I feel like I'm in the middle of everything that's going on. It would be interesting to hear your production choices for doing this record in surround. One of the things I told the band was that I wanted them to picture playing in a 1,500-seat auditorium where all the people became like beads in the maracas, just shaking the whole auditorium like a maraca. And we succeeded with that kind of boom, shake, and rattle.

Surround would be an extension of that way of thinking. I would try to arrange the surround in such a way that you would feel like you were in the maraca.

In your mind, where am I, the listener, in that 1,500-seat auditorium? You'd be anywhere on the stage, singing or playing. I just wanted it to be one big rumble, one big boom. At this point, music has broken down for me where it's just "ring, boom, ding, chang" - those are the words I use now to describe notes.