Making Records
Phil Ramone and Charles L. Granta
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Buy *Making Records: The Scenes Behind the Music* by Phil Ramone and Charles L. Granta online

Making Records: The Scenes Behind the Music
Phil Ramone and Charles L. Granta
336 pages
October 2007
rated 3 of 5 possible stars

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The man being chronicled here, Phil Ramone, is widely considered one of the top - if not the top - producers who ever lived. His resume is so unbelievable that it seems made up. The book details the 33 Grammy nominations and the 14 Grammies he's accumulated for working with the biggest artists in the world, including Billy Joel, Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Elton John, Rod Stewart, Sting, Barbra Streisand, Dixie Chicks, Simon & Garfunkel, and dozens of others.

Here, the producer talks about some of these relationships:

(On Dylan) "Now, you've got to understand that Bob Dylan is a bit eccentric: He'll come into the studio and just start playing."

(On Billy Joel) "Despite all the time we spent tweaking Just the Way You Are, Billy still wasn't sure that he wanted it on the album."

(On Paul Simon) "One afternoon the phone in my studio rang.
"This is Paul Simon," the voice on the other end said.
"Sure it is," I replied, thinking that one of the other engineers was pulling my leg.
"No - it's really Paul Simon," the person said. "I heard you're a good engineer. I'm doing a solo project, and I'd love to work on a song with you."
Ramone reminisces about his various encounters, and Granta assists him in putting the ideas on paper. What really comes across is the man's sort of low-key persona. There are numerous horror stories of producers imposing their own will on an artist, on their sound, but Phil is not that person.
"I'm not a screamer. I've seen producers yell, badger, bully, and throw tantrums to get results, but that approach has never worked for me."
And that is the point of view from which they stories evolve. He is a legend, and the book is a celebrity-filled ride through his life. One of the most gifted individuals to ever set foot in a studio, all you need to do is listen to a Ramone production to understand why the musical elite line up to work with him.

If you're a musician, you'd probably give a limb to sit beside Phil Ramone behind a multi-track board. Chances are you'll never have that opportunity. But at least reading this book will give you a sense of what that might be like.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Steven Rosen, 2008

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