A timeless recording feels right. And a recording that feels right is usually made up of some kind of truth – for example, a true documentation of how people were playing in the room at that time, uninterrupted by external opinion. If something has a natural feeling, then that’s also a real good ingredient for timelessness.
The irony of timelessness is that sometimes the most dated things are timeless. You listen to a P-Funk record from the early ’70s – and there’s a crass wah-wah pedal that is dated specific to the day – and everybody thinks it’s wonderful and timeless! I think it’s because there was so much commitment that went into it; it was so much the “sound of the moment” and done with such naiveté that it is timeless.
Naiveté is not something that you can be aware of when you’re trying to work, it’s something that you’re aware of maybe a year down the road; but it’s also a pretty important ingredient to recordings you want to keep listening to.
Daniel Lanois, recording artist, producer (U2, Robbie Robertson, Peter Gabriel). Originally printed in “Sound Advice”, Professional Sound, Winter 1995.)