'I Love Tom T. Hall's Songs of Fox Hollow'

Aug 1, 2011 9:00 AM, By Barbara Schultz



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“At the time of those sessions, we had a Mackie digital 8-bus console and we were tracking to an Alesis HD24 hard-disk recorder,” Engle says. “I was on hand to help because Richard had never recorded there before. I think he used all of the mic pre’s that were on hand: a dbx 576, several 386s—the 2-channel versions—and an older Peavey, a VMP2.”

“I started to bring stuff out there, and then I thought better of it,” McLaurin says. “I brought my Coles mic, and that may have been the only thing. So we started poking around at their studio, and it was like, ‘Oh my gosh, an RCA 44, let’s use that!’ But I wouldn’t say that any of the gear we used was the key. When you’ve got Patty Griffin and Buddy Miller and people like that, anything you put in front of them is going to sound beautiful.”

During a couple of overdub days, when McLaurin had another commitment, Alex McCollough—a mastering engineer at Yes Master (and the mastering engineer on this project)—filled in to record Jim Lauderdale’s vocals and Duane Eddy’s guitar. “We put Duane in one of the larger booths in front of the control room,” McCollough says. “He brought in his Gretsch and his Musicman amp and asked for a large-diaphragm condenser mic; I used the Neumann mic that Richard had already set up, into the Peavey mic pre. He started playing, and all I can say is, it sounded like Duane Eddy!”

Adam Bednarik mixed the completed tracks on the vintage API at House of David Studios. His approach of using minimal compression and focusing on an open, natural sound brought out the best in these lovely, affectionate recordings. “I ran the stereo mix through a pair of 1176s and into two Neve line amps,” Bednarik says. “It gave the mixes an added depth. I also ran the steel and Duane Eddy’s guitar through some UA tube compressors, but that was more for sonic character. The main thing was to keep that open sound and wrap the mixes around the vocals.”

“These songs are geared to kids, but they have some hard truths in them,” Cooper reflects. “In ‘Everybody Loves to Hear a Bird Sing,’ the song I got to do, the song goes, ‘Right now you’re young and you’re not very tall, and you’re really very busy and you’re really very small. Some day when you’re older and things go wrong, you’re gonna need a pretty bird song.’ Things aren’t always going to be wonderful, but you might want to hear a bird sing on a bad day.”

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