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The Sessions

Episode 4 of 4

Today's music superstars use a lovingly reassembled old machine to record in the same way that their early predecessors did - with no edits, no overdubs and no retakes.

The machine that introduced the sounds of America to its people has been lovingly reassembled and, in the heart of Hollywood, in a perfect recreation of the atmosphere and conditions of America's first-ever recording studios, today's music superstars roll the epic on.

Elton John, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Alabama Shakes, Jack White, Nas, Ana Gabriel, Beck, Los Lobos and Steve Martin are among the artists who test their skills against the demands of the recording machine that literally made American music. There are no edits, no overdubs and no retakes, and the disc only allows for three minutes of recording time.

Despite these limitations, today's recordings for American Epic have one advantage - the freshly recorded sound is crystal clear and of an astonishing depth, transporting us vividly into the past - and the future.

2 hours

Last on

Mon 3 Feb 2020 01:00

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Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • 00:00

    Brian Eno

    Another Green World

  • 00:02

    Brian Eno

    Another Green World

  • 00:43

    Charley Patton

    High Water Everywhere (Part 1)

  • 00:56

    Clarence Ashley

    The Coo Coo Bird

  • 01:46

    Joe Falcon

    Lafayette (Allons A Lafayette)


Role Contributor
Director Bernard MacMahon
Producer Bernard MacMahon
Series Editor Anthony Wall
Producer Allison McGourty
Producer Duke Erikson
Executive Producer T Bone Burnett
Executive Producer Robert Redford
Executive Producer Jack White
Production Company Lo-Max
Participant Elton John
Participant Willie Nelson
Participant Nas
Participant Merle Haggard
Participant Alabama Shakes
Participant Jack White
Participant Ana Gabriel
Participant Beck
Participant Los Lobos
Participant Steve Martin


Featured in...

BBC Music Presents… Arena: American Epic

BBC Music Presents… Arena: American Epic

Extracts and performances from a series celebrating the pioneers of American roots music.