Whitney Houston’s grootste hit…in 20 minuten gemixt.

Whitney Houston is overleden, echt zonde.

Haar grootste hit is in mijn ogen “I will always love you“. Als ik aan die track denk, denk ik aan het technische verhaal erachter. Onderstaande passage ( in het engels) komt uit David Fosters (haar producer) boek “Hitman”. Heel leuk: De mix die wij van die track kennen is in 20 minuten gemixt.

The soundtrack for The Bodyguard was coming out on Arista, the label founded by Clive Davis, one of the industry’s premier record executives. He is a brilliant guy with golden ears, but he also had a well-earned reputation for scrutinizing and overanalyzing everybody’s music. When the time came to mix the song and send it to him, I knew that he would get back to me with a bunch of comments and suggestions for the remix. Not because the song necessarily needed it, but because he was Clive Davis — and he could.

So I thought I’d outsmart him. I asked my engineer, David Reitzas, to do a passable rough mix. I didn’t want him to spend twelve hours on something Clive was going to change anyway.

“Don’t waste a lot of time,” I said.

Reitzas came up with an impressive mix, but there were a number of things we both wanted to change — the vocal reverb wasn’t quite right; the strings weren’t loud enough; the sax was too loud; we wanted to add a guitar lick near the end — but I messengered the DAT over to Clive’s office anyway. (DAT for Digital Audio Tape format, which was state-of-the-art back then; they can be copied and recopied with no degeneration in sound quality.) I knew Clive was going to ask for changes, and by sending him a substandard mix I was simply buying myself time to create the perfect version of the song. I had my own vision for it, and I wasn’t going to sell my vision short.

I also planned on doing some additional work on the live ballroom recording. Whitney’s vocals were terrific, as I’ve said, but there were parts of the track that didn’t work for me — a direct result of recording and filming simultaneously.

In short order, Clive called with startling news: “I love it!” he said. “I absolutely love it.” I had never heard Clive Davis say that before, ever, and certainly not on a first pass.

“Great, great,” I said, but my heart sank. I had more work to do, and I stumbled my way through the rest of the conversation. “Well, Clive, you know, there are just a couple more things I want to do with it to make it tiny little bit better,”

“Sure, okay,” he said, “but I love this.”

Coming from Clive, that was a warning: Don’t mess with it! I went back and did what I had to do, a process which took a dozen hours, and sent the remix to Clive. “I made only a few changes,” I said. I guess I was relying on the power of suggestion.

But I should have seen what was coming. “What did you do to it?” he said. “I hate it. Why did you make all these changes? I told you I loved it.”

I spent another dozen hours at the board trying to tweak the tweaks, thinking maybe he’d forget, but Clive Davis doesn’t forget. Two months after the insanity started, we were still arguing. “What are you doing to me?” he said. “The original mix was perfect!”

Then we really got into it. “I don’t know how you can say that,” I said. “It’s not there yet. I’m still working on it. I put my heart and soul into that song, and I don’t want to use that mix.”

And Clive shot back: “You know something, David? I think we should get off the phone before one of us says something he’ll regret.”

I took a deep breath, braced myself, and came clean: “Clive, I’ve got to be honest with you. That mix doesn’t even exist anymore. That original mix was actually a rough mix. We threw it together in twenty minutes. I don’t have it.”

“But I do!” he said. “I’ve been carrying it around in my pocket all summer. I’ll get it back to you, you’ll master it, and that will be the final record.”

To this day, I happen to think that my mix was superior. We’ll never know, however. We mastered the original DAT and that became the record. The sax remained out of tune and there was no electric guitar tacked onto the end. And the vocals stayed the same.

The song was a history-making blockbuster. “I Will Always Love You” locked in at number one on Billboard’s Hot 100 for an astonishing fourteen straight weeks, which at the time was the longest run ever. The soundtrack sold an unprecedented one million units a week for two weeks in a row. The single, by one count, sold some ten million copies worldwide, crossing over from pop, and hit Number One on Billboard’s R&B, Adult Contemporary, and radio airplay charts. The film went on to gross $411 million worldwide, and today the soundtrack ranks as one of the all-time top-selling albums in the world, with over forty million units — grossing as much as the film. It was mind-blowing.

In the months and years that followed, I often heard “I Will Always Love You” described as “the love song of the century,” and I’m not going to argue with that. I’m very proud of it, and proud of having been part of a signature moment in Whitney’s career. Whether you loved it or hated it, the song made you feel, and at the end of the day that’s what it’s all about. Whitney’s mother had it right: We caught lightning in a bottle that night.

When the Grammys finally rolled around in 1994, all hell broke loose at the awards: “I Will Always Love You” won for Record of the Year, the soundtrack won for Album of the Year, Whitney walked off with Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, and I took home my second Producer of the Year award in three years. I also won a Grammy for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocals for “When I Fall in Love,” which Celine Dion sang as a duet with Clive Griffin. (I had to beat out two of my own nominated tracks to win: “I Have Nothing” and Streisand’s “Some Enchanted Evening.”) I went up on stage several times to accept our awards, and it was a damn sight more fun than the 1993 Grammys, when I was nominated for seven awards and won nothing.

2 Comments

  1. yep….niet te moeilijk doen he…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *