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Black Keys Return to the Studio

The Grammy-laden duo blast back to work in Michigan

The Black Keys perform during the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Music Festival.
Douglas Mason/Getty Images
May 23, 2013

We never rehearse or practice before we go into the studio," says Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach. "We just get in there and see what happens." In January, the band hit the vintage-gear-packed Keyclub Recording Co. in the industrial city of Benton Harbor, Michigan, to work on its follow-up to 2011's Grammy-dominating El Camino. "We didn't leave the studio for 10 days," says drummer Patrick Carney. How did they wind up in Michigan? "Our friends in the Kills told us about it," says Carney. "They have this really cool mixing console that used to belong to Sly Stone." Up next: more recording with longtime collaborator Danger Mouse. Adds Carney, "We've got to keep rolling the dice."

This story is from the May 23rd, 2013 issue of Rolling Stone.


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Song Stories

“San Francisco Mabel Joy”

Mickey Newbury | 1969

A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

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