PODCAST: Don Was and the Producer's Art

Producer Don Was reflects on his time as a visiting teacher at Berklee and the qualities of a good producer.

March 18, 2009

For several days last semester, record producer Don Was strolled the halls and streets around Berklee with the enthusiasm of a first-semester student. For several upper-semester music production and engineering majors, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get one-on-one feedback from one of the most successful producers of the past 25 years.

For others on campus, there were many opportunities to hear war stories and receive advice from the man who has been producing albums for music greats since the 1970s. He won the Producer of the Year Grammy Award in 1994 and has released several successful albums as coleader of Was (Not Was), an innovative multi-style band with memorable melodies and danceable grooves.

During a break between classes, Was talked for more than an hour about working with Berklee students, the keys to succeeding as a producer, and how he helped create timeless studio recordings with artists like Bonnie Raitt, Willie Nelson, and the Rolling Stones.

Follow the links below to hear some of his comments. There's sage advice and behind-the-scenes stories that will interest everyone from studio vets to passionate music fans. 

PART ONE (21:56) – Was talks about working with students and how his parents helped him become the producer he is, among other topics.

PART TWO (23:36) – Listen to clips from a few of the albums Was produced, as he talks about how he and the artists collaborated to get the best results possible.

Part two of the interview with Don Was used clips from the following Was-produced songs:

  • "Thing Called Love" – Bonnie Raitt
  • "Nick of Time" – Bonnie Raitt
  • "American Tune" – Willie Nelson
  • "Oh No, Not You Again" – The Rolling Stones
  • "Somewhere in America There's a Street Named After My Dad" – Was (Not Was)