Classic Tracks: Gary Wright's "Dream Weaver"

Dec 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By Matt Hurwitz


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Another correction to “Dream Weaver” was made during mixing. While it seems perfectly natural that the song's third verse contains no drums, it was actually the result of a “happy accident. There was a technical issue in that verse, but the rest of the take was fantastic,” recalls Lewis. “So we made a decision to just take the drums out of that verse,” filling in the gap with a stereo-panned “spaceship” sound that Lewis created from several pink-noise sources. “In those days, it was a hip thing to do,” he says of the spaceship. “Today, I guess it wouldn't be so hip.”

In overdubbing, Wright and Lewis added a few other sounds onto “Dream Weaver” that gave it its unique flavor. The shimmering, flanged sound of the high string part from the ARP String Ensemble was created by again splitting the signal, one into a direct input to the desk, where it was fed through a flanger, the other signal out to the studio to a fast-spinning Leslie speaker, which was miked in stereo. “That combination really gave it a whole different dimension,” Lewis notes.

Adding to the spacey sound of the track was a whoosh of tinkling chimes, which Wright created on the Minimoog. “They had a little booklet with sounds, and one of them was called ‘Tinkling Bells,’” he explains. “I just tweaked all the parameters and then put it through an Echoplex.”

The most important overdubs, of course, were Wright's vocals, recorded through a Neumann U87, with slight compression and an EQ Lewis found that brought out the edge in the singer's voice. “He would put everything he had into every take,” Lewis recalls. “The veins in his neck would stand out. With Gary, you don't have to manufacture anything, you're just taking it down.” The engineer added a small amount of pre-delay during mixing, adding even greater depth to the soulful vocals.

While not intentional, Wright created the next step in pop recording, which would be heard echoing into the 1980s. “I didn't really have a goal, sound-wise; I just wanted to make a good album with good songs,” he says. “All these sounds just fell into place.”

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