I’ve just finished reading Nilsson: The Life of a Singer-Songwriter by Alyn Shipton. I’ve been fascinated with the man’s work this year and wanted to glean more insights into the making of his finer albums. The big eye opener for a DYI “bedroom artist” like myself was the sheer amount of manpower and money funneled into his records. The studio, the big name producer, the well-regarded arranger, the top notch engineers, and a small army of fantastic studio musicians who were all brought to bear on Nilsson’s work. And when the book describes the personnel required for symphonic backing tracks: “a forty-piece orchestra and twenty-four singers” I’m just floored.
I’m not even sure albums are made like this much anymore except by the biggest acts. I have to admit it makes me a bit envious. What kind of record could I make with that sort of backing? If I could focus solely on my singing and songwriting how much better would they be?
I can’t see the answer arriving anytime soon. That dream seems very far away. As much as I’d love to work with a Richard Perry, a Alan Parsons, or Tony Visconti I have a very hard time imagining how that would happen in the near future.
Anyhow, for an inside look at how records used to be made and the hijinks of one of the 70s great singer songwriters I heartily recommend this book.