In a lineup, few would recognize his face, but Daniel Lanois' unmistakable fingerprints are all over an entire wing of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He scripted the signature sound of the biggest records from U2 and Peter Gabriel and breathed new life into artists like Bob Dylan, the Neville Brothers, Emmylou Harris and Willie Nelson. You know his sound when you hear it: a spacious blur of echoes that can feel both massive and intimate, with the landscape criss-crossed by experimental threads of rhythm.
His new solo record, Goodbye to Language, could be called "ambient" because there are no vocals or drums, but there's still plenty going on. "I'm not interested in background music," he says. "It's more about soul and drawing an emotion out of the listener." Built on his pedal steel guitar and lap steel from Rocco Deluca, the record is a profound collage of every mood he's manipulated or manufactured since he first teamed up to tweak tape with Brian Eno. The producer-composer looks back at 15 songs that shaped his career.