Jim Braly's Reviews > Soul Mining: A Musical Life

Soul Mining by Daniel Lanois
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's review
Nov 30, 2011

really liked it

"Soul Mining: A musical life" is a trip through Daniel Lanois' travels, friendships, dreams and inspirations. Hard to believe this Canadian was a candle maker in Gainsville, Florida, for a while, then not too long after that he was producing albums for U2. If you play and record music yourself, you'll love his stories from the studio, and most likely gain knowledge and insights. Some of them are simple, perhaps obvious, but to hear them coming from the source, they gain heft and height.

Lanois speaks: "There is a term that I like to use: liftoff. Liftoff is when all the ingredients gel and harmonic interplay works in your favor."

Yes, liftoff, sometimes it happens and who can explain the mystery? Or the luck? Make sure you hit the record button on every take, even the rehearsals.

Occasionally, Lanois drifts — or choruses — into politics. Fine with me. His sensibility: "There are those of us who do not appreciate Jamba Juice butted up against Target, butted up against Taco Bell, butted up against Burger King, with condos on top."

His sentiment on mixing music is especially refreshing, and he mentions that his mixes are "greasy," rather than "perfect." It's a little hard to translate that, exactly, but I think it would be obvious when heard.

While I liked this memoir a lot, one anecdote was quite sad and hit me hard, an unexpected sucker punch.

Lanois produced Bob Dylan's "Time Out of Mind" album, which won three Grammy awards. What the album did not produce was a certified radio hit.

But, as Lanois tells it, "I felt relieved when the ultimate conclusion to our work turned up on television. 'Love Sick' had become the theme for the new Victoria's Secret sexy women's underwear campaign. The penetrating sound of my Goldtop Les Paul and Bob's Telecaster had reached the masses. I felt it had all been worthwhile — Bob and I had had our hit."

Oh, the penetrating dismay.

Did anyone remind Dylan that he wrote "The Times They Are A-Changin'" and "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall"? Did anyone ask him if he wanted to be remembered for pushing pushup bras?

Did anyone at Victoria's Secret listen to the song before they bought it? There is nothing uplifting about it. The feel is more, "This dirge is killing me — I've got to buy a basic black suit so I can attend my own funeral."

Money, honey. Selling out was never sexier. Or more disappointing.

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