Loren Harriet is the producer of Bernie Williams’ CD The Journey Within, and will be producing Bernie’s next release as well. Loren is a music industry veteran and has even started his own production company, LGH productions. In addition to Bernie Williams, he has also worked with Bronson Arroyo, Wayman Tisdale, Megan Mullally, John Lithgow, Jay Leno, Billy Bob Thornton, and Jeff Goldblum. Loren was nice enough to give us a few minutes of his time and tell us about the making of The Journey Within and what it was like to work with Bernie Williams:
I was hoping you could fill the readers in a little bit about your record company, other artists you have produced, or maybe how you got into producing.
LH: I have a production company called LGH Productions. I’ve been producing albums for about 15 years now. The artists range from traditional recording artists from the world of music, to non-traditional recording artists from the world of sports, film and television. I got into producing many years ago as I met various top session musicians in the music industry. It was fun to go into the studio with them, along with the recording artist and have the recording artists’ project come alive. Some of my projects are at my website www.lorenharriet.com, though the site needs to be updated.
You were one of the first people to leave me some nice feedback when you found my website. How did you find it?
LH: When we recorded Bernie’s first album, we created a website that could give Bernie’s fans updates on the album. In going through the internet to see what was out there for Bernie, I found your site, which I thought was very well done and very passionate about Bernie, both as a ballplayer and as a musician.
How did you get involved with producing Bernie’s music? Did you know Bernie beforehand? Are you a Yankee fan?
LH: I first met Bernie through a good friend of mine, Allyne Price, from MLBPA (the players union) and she was/is good friends with Bernie. At the time, it was 1998 and Bernie was starting to get into recording demos. There would be a room in clubhouse that he would set up his guitar and a simple 4 track recorder. His buddy and fellow musician/ballplayer Paul O’Neill would jam with Bernie (Bernie on guitar and Paul on drums). It helped get them ready for games. It seemed to work pretty well as they won three World Championships in a row together! Once I heard Bernie’s demos, I knew there was something special and we continued to stay in touch. I’m a huge baseball fan.
How were Bernie’s songs from The Journey Within actually presented to you initially? Did he have raw demos of his original pieces?
LH: Bernie sent me the demos for The Journey Within in November of 2002. He had progressed from a 4 track demo to an 8 track demo and they were done very well at his house. There were about 5-6 songs on the CD and they were terrific. A few of the songs were not on the demo CD and we ended up recording them in the studio, including “La Salsa En Mi.”
Which one of Bernie’s songs stood out to you the most?
LH: On the demo it was the song “Just Because.” The chord changes and melody were amazing and very much like guitarist/songwriter Pat Metheny, who Bernie and I both admire and who, it turns out, is a fan of Bernie’s, both as a ballplayer and as a musician.
A lot of great musicians appear on The Journey Within. How were you able to get them all?
LH: I had worked with many of them before on various projects and continue to do so. Musicians such as Leland Sklar (Phil Collins’ band), Kenny Aronoff (John Mellencamp’s band), Mark Rivera (Billy Joel’s band), T-Bone Wolk (Hall & Oates’ band) are amazing musicians, and my closest friends. We wanted to make sure the musicians on the album inspired Bernie, which I believe they did. When you have musicians like Lee, Kenny, David Sancious, Ruben Blades, Tim Pierce, Bela Fleck, Mark, and T-Bone, you will have a great album.
Who decided to put the cover songs (“Dust in the Wind” & “And So It Goes”) on the CD?
LH: Bernie wanted to cover “Dust In The Wind.” He always loved that song and felt an arrangement that included his brother Hiram would be terrific and fun for both of them. I suggested “And So It Goes,” as it is a wonderful song with a terrific melody. Also, I thought it would be appropriate to have a Billy Joel song on the album, as Billy is one of my favorites and a huge Yankee fan.
One of Bernie’s hidden gems, in my opinion, is “Eye of the Storm,” which appears on the Big League Rocks CD, which you also produced. Was there ever any thought of putting that song on The Journey Within to give it additional exposure?
LH: I actually Executive Produced that CD, as I was an agent at the time and you could not produce if you were a franchised agent. My friend Will Lee produced the track with some terrific musicians like Chuck Loeb. Bernie and I talked about re-cutting that song for The Journey Within, but we had so many brand new songs, we went with our new demos.
Were there any songs from The Journey Within sessions that did not make the final cd?
LH: Not really. We were pretty happy with what we had.
Overall, how was it to work with Bernie?
LH: He is the best. He is very passionate about his music and very demanding on himself and others. He also is willing to learn about how the process works. This helped him greatly in the studio and will help him greatly when we record the second album.
This may be the million dollar question: What do you know about Bernie’s next cd? Does he normally give you a call when he’s ready to record? Any scoop on when it might be out, or the number of songs, or the title?
LH: I think the next album will happen shortly. Bernie has been recording demos and they sound great, so I am very excited that we will record them soon with many of the same musicians from the first album. Not sure of how many songs or the title yet, but stay tuned!!
Now that Bernie is retired, is there any chance he could do any type of small-scale tour?
LH: It is really Bernie’s call. He spent many years on the road with the Yankees, so I know he wants to be with his family. However, Bernie loves to perform live, so we will see.
What type of projects are you working on now that you can tell us about?
LH: It’s been a busy year so far and will get busier. I finished an album that was released in late March called Clover Country with EMI that raised funds for the 4-H youth organization. The CD includes songs by Faith Hill, Reba, and Vince Gill, as well as a new song I produced with a terrific artist named Hillary Lindsey. The album has sold well and has raised a good amount of money for 4-H. I’m finishing an album now with the Los Angeles Dodgers, celebrating their 50th Anniversary in Los Angeles. It has been fun and will be released on August 16th. It is also raising funds for charity, in this case, the Dodgers Dream Foundation.