Tom Dowd was one of the greatest recording engineer / producers ever — he played such an important role in the studio with so many great artists.
From the interview — here he’s talking about one of my favorite artists — Aretha Franklin:
PL: I’d really like you to elaborate on something you said earlier. Let’s talk about the “limitations” and the “what they’re extra good at” of some of your artists. How about Aretha Franklin?
TD: Aretha is one of those most unusual artists. Aretha does not need a producer she needs a confidante, that’s all. She just needs somebody there when she’s singing with whom she can share what she’s trying to do.
Sometimes, when she hears back a performance that has completely captivated you, you’ll say “This is the best singing I’ve ever heard you do!” she’ll listen to it a few more times and say “I can do one better.” She means that it’s not an ego trip and it’s not theatrics. She actually knows that there’s something in there that she can do better. Aretha has an incredible facility for judging her own performance and knowing how much room there is for improvement.
PL: Would you say she has any “limitations”?
TD: No. She can do absolutely anything she wants to do.