Legendary Canadian producer Daniel Lanois has always had a solo career between making Album of the Year Grammy winners like U2's "The Joshua Tree" and Bob Dylan's "Time Out Of Mind," but a near fatal motorcycle accident in 2010 caused him to step back and reassess his career.
Of course, this came quickly after jumping back in the producer's chair to complete work on Neil Young's studio album "Le Noise."
"It's a very powerful record," he says. "I think part of its power is I went through the accident and all the associated emotions. But it certainly caused me to look at life differently and appreciate every minute we got. I want to make every note count and every note like it's the last one I'll ever play.
"I'm not doubting anything that I'm doing, even if I make a mistake I'll come back more strongly. You know there was a time where if something looked like it was going to fail I might shy away and move in another direction. But no more. If I believe in something I don't mind stumbling a little bit and keep going."
"It was all over the place and then the direction clarified itself," Lanois admits of new album "The End." "I thought, 'Well I'm going to run with this sort of laboratory record, make it an instrumental album and try and break some sonic ground."
Lanois, 63, also says he initially found the fact "The End" would be lyrics-free arduous.
"The biggest challenge was abandoning the vocal songs and saying, 'Well, I'm excited about where this is going instrumentally,'” he says. "It features my steel guitar which I love and I did some beautiful playing on it. I just went to where I felt it was most magical."
Besides his own projects, Lanois was honoured at Toronto's Luminato this summer with Sleeping In The Devil's Bed, a tribute concert featuring Emmylou Harris and Scottish singer Alasdair Roberts, the latter Lanois says “scared me it was that good” with his cover of “The Collection Of Marie Claire.”
"I was nervous at first," he says. "I thought, 'Why me?' It's not something where you can stand on a rock and have any kind of position or braggart-y about it. You have to be humble but when I got there they had about a 20-piece orchestra playing some of my instrumentals and they were beautiful, the arrangements were terrific. Then they had a kids' choir doing a song of mine and that was very touching. It actually changed the way I looked at my music. I thought some of it was better than how I actually did it."
Lanois is equally open-minded about his profession, which he says is morphing, not dying.
"I don't think producing has become a lost art, I think it's just constantly shifting," he says. "I think producing has gone into the hands of artists largely through economy. I think we're seeing some pretty interesting works coming out of people's basements and just on computers. If somebody has a burning heart and a lot of talent then they'll do something with it. The toolbox may vary but what drives people will always be with us."
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