Shotgun Willie on Recording an Album

Hank III recorded his last album Straight to Hell on a $400 Korg D-1600 machine so that he could be liberated from budget restraints and have more creative control. I also heard him say once in an interview that he also did this to show other bands and musicians out there that they did not need a major label or a big recording studio to cut an album.

When I heard this it reminded me of something I read in the Willie Nelson autobiography that was written in the 80’s about an album that was made in the 70’s, but is still relevant to today’s recording environment.

The Immortal Shotgun Willie Nelson:

“We cut the ’Red Headed Stranger’ album at Autumn Sound in Garland, Texas, in three days for $20,000 with Phil York as the engineer. I mean mixed and fixed and ready to release in three days.

In one way we were very lucky with the ’Red Headed Stranger’ album, because usually the record company big shots will look at the budget before they listen to the music. If they see you only spent $20,000 on your album, you probably get dumped. They’ll put out your record, but they won’t promote it. The big shots are worried about how to sell the $2,000,000 albums and save their jobs. No telling how many fine albums went into the garbage just because they were made too cheaply. There’s no way a lot of record company people can make money off a $20,000 album. But if they get a couple million, they can spend half of it on studio time and the rest on musicians and a well-placed number of dollar bills in different guys’ pockets, and everybody gets fat off somebody’s album.”

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