Sound City (2013)
Everyone agreed that Sound City in Van Nuys, California, was a dilapidated dump of a recording studio. The parking lot would flood. There was brown shag carpet on the walls. One musician saw it and said, "I'm not sure we can record here." But many dozens of bands did record there, beginning with Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty, Neil Young, Kansas, the Grateful Dead, Santana, Johnny Cash, and many more. The platinum records on the wall attest to its central role in rock history. But then digital technology came along in the late eighties and almost put Sound City out of business, were it not for a new recording by Nirvana. That bought them a little more time. The purists like Neil Young and Tom Petty longed to record in analog tape, and complained about digitalization that allowed amateurs to make music "perfect." In the last fifteen minutes of the documentary, Paul McCartney comes to Sound City to cut a record. "We don't know what we're doing," he says, "so we can do anything." And so for people like him, all the digital simulation and manipulation is no substitute for the human element of making music. I watched this film on Amazon Instant Video.