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Thursday
Jun132013

Don Was with Bob Dylan: the impact of recording conversation

What will happen in society if more conversations are recorded? Conversations are the most sensitive topic in life-logging, and it seems likely that in most societies conversation recording will be frowned upon - if not downright illegal. Still, there are some attractions. Don't you sometimes wish you had a recording of the advice your doctor dispensed at the end of your last visit? Many a spouse has a longed for evidence of what was really said in an argument. And grandparents will hit "replay" many times on that oh-so-adorable utterance of a toddler. 
Here's an interesting anecdote from a place you might well expect to be recorded in - a recording studio. Even so, I'm not sure whether this conversational recording was legal.  Maybe Don Was could have sued over it, but what he actually did was learn and grow as a person. He learned "don't rehash the past" - but a recording of the past taught him the lesson.
Apparently an assistant engineer recorded all of Was’ conversations with Dylan, thinking that Don would appreciate having them. But when he listened to them, he was appalled. He clearly recalls at least one thing on those tapes: “(I heard) Bob standing at the piano telling me something that he wanted to do, and me telling him why it wasn’t gonna work…  I didn’t even let him try the thing out! It might have been the greatest thing ever, and I sort of thwarted him. If I was Bob Dylan, I would have gone home and said, ‘Don’t ever bring that guy around me again!’”
He continues: “I was so ashamed of myself. I was thinking like… like a fan. ‘Man, I loved Highway 61, it’d be great if he did something else like Highway 61!’ So, I’m trying to get him back to something, and he’s trying to look forward and do something different. Which is what you’re supposed to do! You’re not supposed to just imitate yourself, you’re supposed to do something new, that challenges you.”    
But he took it as a learning experience of sorts: “It’s a lesson to everybody. It’s larger than producing records. Don’t be that way in life.  Don’t keep repeating the same old things. Be present in each new moment, don’t rehash the past.  So I don’t think I was of great service to Bob Dylan.”  

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