Probably my favorite movie of all time is “Lost Horizon”, directed in 1938 by Frank Capra, based on the 1933 novel by James Hilton. It’s the story of the accidental discovery of “Shangri-La”, a paradise-like community hidden in a temperate valley deep in the Tibetan Himalayas. In a key scene, the 250 year-old spiritual leader of the community, played by Sam Jaffe, is asked by Ronald Coleman’s character what his philosophy is, why the people of the community are so happy and productive, and how he managed to live to his extreme age. His explanation goes on for a while about moderation, benevolent working conditions, healthy diets and so forth, but then the old man sums it up with two words that reveal the real secret of its success: “be kind”. That moment in the film gets me every time I see it. The simplest of ideas can be so powerful.

I think kindness is a huge part of the answer to difficult situations in life. In terms of our careers in music, a recording artists’ profoundly personal relationship to their “muse” can make them intensely vulnerable to outside influences that might interfere with their creativity. That’s why recording studios and everyone present at the session must reflect an understanding of the delicacy of the artistic process. Certainly, for recording engineers, musical and technical skills are absolutely essential, but “being kind” in an enlightened way is no less so. Here at my studio, as well as elsewhere, and for that matter in life in general, I consider it a core guiding principle.

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Ted Spencer Recording