Wednesday, 9/9/09

by musicclipoftheday

Here’s Jim Dickinson—the great Memphis-and-Mississippi-based piano player, session musician (Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Ry Cooder, et al.), record producer (John Hiatt, Albert King, the Replacements, et al.), father of Luther and Cody Dickinson (of the Grammy-nominated North Mississippi Allstars)—who died last month (8/15) at the age of 67. In this clip, he’s listening, with the Rolling Stones, to a playback of “Wild Horses” (Sticky Fingers [1971]), on which he played piano. Somehow it seems appropriate to remember Dickinson with a clip in which you hardly see him (he’s the guy sitting next to Keith [:53]). So many of the finest session musicians and record producers work their magic this way: listening to the music, you hardly notice them; but take them away and the music would be a whole other color—as different as blue and green.

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Here Dickinson talks about a session he produced (Boister):

— “They managed to overcome their educations real well.”

— “They’re all capable of soloing ad nauseam.”

— “You can feel them feeling it.”

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Not only did Dickinson play piano and produce records; he also, now and then, wrote songs. Here are two takes on a song he wrote with Ry Cooder and John Hiatt, “Across the Borderline.”

Bob Dylan and Tom Petty, live, Buffalo, 1986

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Jackson Browne, Bruce Springsteen, and Bonnie Raitt, live, Los Angeles, 1990

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lagniappe

Some of the records I’ve done, really obscure things, will be the ones that somebody will tell you saved their lives. You’ll meet a weird guy in Amsterdam who’ll say ‘I had the gun in my mouth until I heard that record.’ So you never know, you just never know.”—Jim Dickinson

As a producer, it really is all about taste. And I’m not the greatest piano player in the world, but I’ve got damn good taste. I’ll sit down and go taste with anybody.”—Jim Dickinson

“I’m just dead, I’m not gone.”—Jim Dickinson