Hitting The Links

Tom Wilson, Record Producer For The Velvet Underground and Bob Dylan

As monumental as were those Dylan and Simon & Garfunkel albums {he produced}, Wilson’s most challenging work in the recording booth came after Columbia, when he became a staff producer at MGM/Verve in 1966 and helmed the debut albums by both Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention and the Velvet Underground within a two-month period (March-May 1966). You couldn’t get too weird for Wilson, who released cosmic freejazz philosopher Sun Ra’s first album in 1956. Jazz By Sun Ra came out on Transition, the label Wilson started in 1955, right after he graduated from Harvard with a degree in economics.


Vintage Drum Kits From The 1920s And 1930s

I am fascinated by the early drum kits: they were very creative assemblages that generally included Chinese tack head tom toms, wood blocks, China-type cymbals, the "low boys" or "sock cymbals" that preceded the modern hi-hat. And of course the big bass drums and snare drums on their spindly little stands. To me these first American forays into multi-percussion setups are things of sculptural beauty.


Brian Eno And Peter Schmidt’s ‘Oblique Strategies,’ The Original Handwritten Cards

The Oblique Strategies cards were idea-generating tools and tactics designed to break routine thinking patterns. While born of a studio context, Oblique Strategies translated equally well to the music studio. For Eno, the instructions provided an antidote in high-pressure situations in which impulse might lead one to default quickly to a proven solution rather than continue to explore untested possibilities: “Oblique Strategies evolved from me being in a number of working situations when the panic of the situation—particularly in studios—tended to make me quickly forget that there were other ways of working and that there were tangential ways of attacking problems that were in many senses more interesting than the direct head-on approach."


The Neuroscience Of Musical Perception, Bass Guitars And Drake

How humans perceive music is, of course, far more complicated than simply tuning in to tempo. Music draws up — and draws from — memories, emotions and pleasure and reward activity in the brain. Other acoustic qualities like melody, harmony and timbre also play important roles. And our conscious ability to apply symbolic meaning to sounds, lyrics and song — and to recognize when listening to music that what we're listening to is supposed to be music — also certainly influences human musical perception.


Secrets to Long Haul Creativity

Being creative over a career involves a whole subset of nearly invisible skills, a great many of which conflict with most people’s general ideas about what it means to be creative. What’s more, being creative is different than the business of being creative, and most people who learn how to be good at the first, are often really terrible at the second. Finally, emotionally, creativity just takes a toll. Decade after decade, that toll adds up. So here are eight of my favorite lessons on the hard fight of long-haul creativity. A few are my own. Most are things I learned from others. All have managed to keep me saner along the way.