A film I liked: “Tom Dowd and the Language of Music” (2003)

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Do you have any interest in music production, wiring together 8-track tape recorders by hand, the history of Atlantic records, jazz, R&B, southern rock, or atomic bombs? Then get thee to a copy of “Tom Dowd and the Language of Music“, a documentary of the man who pretty much single-handedly developed multi-track recording, working with the likes of John Coltraine, Ray Charles, the Allman Brothers, Eric Clapton, Tito Puente, and Otis Redding. It’s well-crafted and easy to watch—Dowd is an affable old coot, and he was clearly stoked to get some recognition of his contribution to pop music, which as any of the dozens of musicians interviewed will testify, was considerable.

I watched it on Netflix Instant streaming, but it’s also on Amazon for twenty bucks.

My favorite part might have been the interlude between Dowd and Les Paul, who had quietly been building an 8-track recording system in his garage while the rest of the recording world was still using gear scavenged from radio stations.

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6 Responses to A film I liked: “Tom Dowd and the Language of Music” (2003)

  1. philipb says:

    Don’t forget the whole wartime nuclear physicist/Manhattan project thing!

  2. CraziestGadgetsdotcom says:

    good doc… dowd is so freakin cool, he’s like a 50s jazz musician, just causally dropping some big names he’s worked with but in a super chill manner.

  3. historyman68 says:

    Yeah, this movie is awesome. It’s amazing the kind of impact one guy can have on music.

  4. jonk says:

    Thanks for the tip. The fantastic Eugene public library even has 2 copies of it on hand.

  5. CheezeBoy says:

    I had the pleasure of working with this great man. He was amazing and fun and nothing but a professional. I admire him to this day.

    This is a great documentary on his life!!

  6. obscurica says:

    Jonk #3, you’re right about the the EPL, that’s how I saw this movie as well. The fantasticness of the collection is due in large part to the efforts of a guy named Dave who used to run Flicks & Pics video rental, whose collection the EPL graciously purchased upon his establishment’s tragic exit. Next time you’re in Market of Choice on Willamette, thank that man for buying tens of thousands of their titles in the first place.

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