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Sunday, October 3, 2010

"Long Train Runnin'" Doobie Brothers Multitrack

Here's a look at the individual tracks from the multitrack of The Doobie Brothers 1973 top-10 hit "Long Train Runnin'." The song was originally a jam song that the band played during their time as a bar band, and they were reluctant to put it on their 3rd album, "The Captain And Me," which became their most popular album. Supposedly, singer Tom Johnson finished the lyrics at the last minute in the bathroom of Warner Brother's Amigo Studios right before the song was recorded.

I've always been a big fan of Doobies, especially of their vocals, and you'll hear some of the secret to their vocal sound on this video.

1) The first thing you notice is the guitar layers. There are two electric guitars that are doubled playing the main chordal phrase, and 3 different acoustic guitars that add both counterpoint and motion.

2) Even though the Doobies are known for their dual drum kit sound, this song has only one kit that's recorded very old school on only 3 tracks - kick, snare and overhead. The stereo spread comes from the 3 tracks of percussion - tambourine, and 2 different conga patterns.

3) Tommy Johnson's vocals are on a single track, while the chorus harmonies consist of two tracks of 3 part harmonies (their signature vocal sound) and a track of gang vocal on the lowest part.

4) The harmonica solo is track-shared on an empty section on two of the background vocal tracks, a practice that was almost standard back in the tape days. Take notice to the difference in levels. In the final mix, it sounds like they used most of the loud one with a few phrases from the quiet one.

5) The outro ad lib lead vocal lives on the lead vocal track, with a second pass on one of the background vocal tracks, again employing track-sharing.

6) Everything you hear was done on only 15 tracks!

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Bet@ said...

I loved!!!
Is such a amazing thing to know about that song!
Wich audio software are you using on this exemple?
Thanks for share!

Bobby Owsinski said...


All of the tracks featuring on the this blog are from YouTube. Even if I personally had them, I could never legally post them without violating copyright.

The multitracks of most of the songs featured on the blog have been available via the "underground" for a long time though. Not many will admit to having them though, because of the legal ramifications.

Brad said...

This is more proof that talent and know how make a hit song do what it does. Unlimited track count doesn't get you very far unless you have the Mojo to start with.

I have fond memories of 4 tracking ponging/track sharing...running 4 tracks out into a hi fi deck then back into the 4 track, then do it all over again. LOL Sometimers getting 20 plus tracks. It was FUN. :-)

...and you're right Bobby, those signature 3 part harmonies are sweet. How many rock or pop outfits out there today can sing that well without pitch correction?

Nice post!



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