Let me start by saying that I am indeed a (fairly big) fan of Jack White. I have seen him perform live, I own a bunch of his records, my favorite possibly being the first Raconteurs record. My love affair with Mr White goes back to the White Stripes. So when I saw that he and Conan O'Brien had a sit down, informal, chill/hang/interview, I stopped whatever I was doing and sat there on my couch with my laptop in complete attention to two of my favorite "celebrities" yucking it up, talking about music and life. Check it out. Jack White and Conan O'Brien
One of the topics that they carry on about, quite a bit, is about how digital music and technology has hindered our experience, as a mass, and gotten us accustomed to auto tuned vocals, non-performances and the like. I am paraphrasing here quite a bit, but if you're interested, go to minute 24, through about 27, and listen for yourself.
I have conflicting feelings about this. I too love real performances. I love singing/playing guitar on a track that I know I can do well, or working with musicians that are amazing. I hate the idea that people can just go in, move some things around in an edit window, and come out with a brand new "performance". I love the accidental little mistakes that make a track sparkle with humanity and emotion. I love the sound of analog tape, and all its gooey warmth. That all being said, it is 100% impossible for me to pursue recording the same way Mr White does. Number one, I don't have tens of thousands in disposable income to spend on buying, and maintaining (by which I mean fixing) old analog equipment and tape machines. I did actually own an eight track tape/recording console (Tascam 388) before moving to Nashville, but I sold it before moving down here. I was a little afraid of what kind of damage would happen to it in the move, and truthfully I spent more time elbow deep in it trying to figure out why it wasn't working properly than I actually spent using it. Number two, I have to work hard and fast to make my income as a musician/producer. I don't have the luxury of taking all the time in the world to record in an all analog environment. Case in point, I have a band coming in today to knock out two songs in two hours. This is going to be hard enough to do without having to rewind tape every take, or punch in after the fact, or god forbid have to splice anything.
So, I love Jack White, and I would love to have Jack White produce me one day, and have him school me in analog mastery. I would learn a lot I'm sure. And I love the idea of performing all to tape, dumping to 2 track and mastering on the way, but it just isn't practical. Whenever I work in the role as producer/engineer, my first thought is to always serve the song and artists vision. The how of that comes second, and at the end of the day, I'm not sure the how matters much if you are being true to the artistic vision. I have heard it said, and believe art to be about conception, with execution coming second.
I would love to hear what my musician/engineer/producer friends think on this, as well as what the casual music lovers think too. So what do you think?