Soul Mining: A Musical Life
Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., Dec. 10, 2010
Soul Mining: A Musical Lifeby Daniel Lanois
Faber and Faber Inc., 217 pp., $26 (paper)
Soul Mining closes with a transcript from the poetic allegory of dedication and discovery Daniel Lanois first presented as the keynote speaker for South by Southwest 2003, and the book is essentially an extended exposition of his talk. Less a personal biography than a memoir of work, Lanois' reflections on helping create some of the past quarter-century's most enduring albums (U2 to Dylan, Willie to Emmylou) is hardly anecdotal; it's behind the scenes only in the sense of the tireless hours dedicated to the pursuit of an intangible sound that the producer is nonetheless driven to make real. Lanois writes with a calm, contemplative passion that jumps with energy at the spark of insight, and to read his meandering recollections is to join Lanois in his state of "sick, up all night, fighting for a track" dedication and persistence. Soul Mining is inspirational in tone, aspirational in philosophy, and a gearhead's gospel – a must-read for any producer or studio aficionado. The book's ultimate achievement is sending readers back to classic albums spun a thousand times before to hear them anew, now wrought through the ears and vision of the musical and technical genius of Lanois.