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Dan Auerbach: 10 Records I Wish I'd Produced

From the Allmans live to an Elvis cover, the Black Keys guitarist on tracks so good, they make him jealous

May 13, 2014 4:05 PM ET
Daniel Auerbach of The Black Keys performs in Milan, Italy.
Daniel Auerbach of The Black Keys performs in Milan, Italy.
Stefania D'Alessandro/Getty Images

The Black Keys frontman owns a Nashville studio and won the Producer of the Year Grammy last year for his work with the Keys, Hacienda and Dr. John. Auerbach says he aims for recordings that are "warts and all, where there's mistakes and time shifts that all add to an organic feeling, like it’s alive."​

The Black Keys Photos: A Decade of Hard Work Pays Off

1. Duffy Power, "Where Am I?" He was a British singer, this is an Abbey Road recording. I love the harmonies at the beginning. But then it goes into a terrible fucking chorus, just real cheesy and real Tom Jones-y. It's like, oh, come on! If I had been there I would have stopped them from doing the chorus. I usually just put the intro on repeat.

2. Duster Bennett, "I'm Gonna End Up Winding Up With You" He's a blues guy. Peter Green and early Fleetwood Mac covered him, but he got real out-there pretty quickly. He plays every instrument on this song. It reminds me of early Seventies Dylan. I love how it seems to draw from all these different kinds of music that I like.

3. Billy Swan, "Don't Be Cruel." It's the best Elvis cover. He was a Seventies country guy, but this sounds like Timber Timbre.

4. Dave Rich, "Your Pretty Blue Eyes" This guy's voice is incredible. Old school, classic Fifties country.

5. The Allman Brothers, Live at the Fillmore The best sounding live album ever. It has real dynamics that don't smash you in the face. You can tell their stage volume wasn't very loud it was just fuckin awesome. You can tell they're a great studio band.

6. Van Morrison, "He Ain't Give You None" He got into a record deal with Bang Records, one of the ultimate ripoff deals of all time. He realized how fucking awful a deal it was, and he had to record like 30 songs to get out of it. So he went into the studio and recorded 30 songs in one day. It's really soulful, and he's just improvising lyrics. It's fearless and great – amazing soul music.

7. Rigo Tovar, "Besando La Cruz" I Shazamed this at a taco truck the other day and it blew my fucking mind. He's like a megastar in Mexico. What did they record this shit on? Amazing sonics on every song. Mexican music is a lot like Jamaican music – I'll be like, "When did they record that, the Sixties?" And it's the late Eighties or something.

8. Pusha T, "Numbers on the Board"
This is a Kanye beat. It's minimal but propulsive. I love it.

9. Metronomy, "We Broke Free"
This is off their album The English Riviera, which is probably my favorite modern "rock" album in years.

10. Troy Ave, "Knocks"
A throwback, sample-based beat – but done really well.

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

More Song Stories entries »
 
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