Dan Wallin: The Sound of Creativity

I love inspiring stories of people like Dan Wallin who continue to push their creative comfort zones well into the later stages of their lives. So when I read about Danny (as his friends call him), the oldest working sound engineer in Hollywood, I was blown away for a number of good reasons. Dan Wallin is eighty-four years old and he recently finished mastering the sound track for Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol. While he could be playing a lot of golf or enjoying twenty previous years of retirement, Dan Wallin continues to create, learn, and improve as a master of his sound engineering craft. Here’s my executive summary of the Los Angeles Times article, It’s Still Music to Dan Wallin’s Ears.

Dan Wallin inspires me because he is still working well into his eighties. His life has much to teach every artist and creative person about continuous improvement, artistic mastery, and using creative talents to their fullest. How’s this for a set of credentials?

    • At eight-four years old, he is the oldest working sound engineer in the film industry. His colleagues say his ears still rank among the best in town.
    • Dan Wallin’s career stretches over 60 years. He has worked on over 500 film and television show, even video games!
    • He’s recorded the scores of composers John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, and Lalo Schifrin, the composer of the original Mission Impossible TV series.
    • He captured the score for all six seasons of “Lost,” as well as garnering Academy Award nominations and Emmy’s.
    • Wallin’s adept with the old and new, comfortable with miking an entire sound stage, running a multi-million dollar analog board and editing with Pro Tools, the audio technology software used in music scoring and mixing.

I don’t know about you, but Lord willing, I want to be working hard well into my eighties. (I wrote about this in a similar post: Old Age, Creativity & The Art of Lastingness) There’s simply so many ideas, books, screenplays, creative people to work alongside and creative projects to accomplish, I just don’t want to putter around and lose my edge in this culturally-induced idea of retirement. I love stories like Dan Wallin who continue to push the limits of their creativity, longevity and artistic talents. His work ethic, perseverance, striving for continuous improvement and commitment to his craft should challenge every one of us to work harder and reach higher.

In conclusion, last week I  took my twelve year old son to see Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol. A fun popcorn movie. Not only did we enjoy watching Tom Cruise escape Russian prisons and hang off tall buildings, our ears were the recipients of a masterful score engineered by an eighty-four year old artist who refuses to call it quits. We were, literally, able to listen to the sound of Dan Wallin’s creativity.

That, Danny Wallin, is music to my ears.

Questions: What inspires you about Dan Wallin’s life? How does his creative longevity challenge you as an artist? What is one creative long-term goal you have for your life?

I’d love your comments and questions.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive, snarky or off-topic.

  • Joyce Harback

    Great role model. Incredible inspiration. Thanks for highlighting him.

    • http://www.joeyo.org Joey O’Connor

      Thanks Joyce…I’m glad you enjoyed the post. And thanks for subscribing. I’ll be sending you the free book now! Have a great day!

  • Francene327

    Joey Hi,  I can see how you can be  amaze by  accomplishment he is brilliant.    You are also because you acknowledge his workings.   Peace  Frannie

    • http://www.joeyo.org Joey O’Connor

      Yes, it’s amazing what can be accomplished when a creative person (and all people are creative, even if they don’t know it) just keeps doing the same thing over and over again with skill, diligence and hard work! Thanks for your kind words Frannie!

  • Pingback: The 3 Buckets of Creative Cultivation | Joey O'Connor | Art, Life & Faith()

  • Juanita M Gonzalez

    Hello Joey, my name is Juanita I’m a  60 year old. I few years back I felt the Lord calling me to study Art. l made it to the  State University as a Junior this last year, with the purpose of working towards a BA in Fine Arts. l Love your  story about Dan Willin. Dan will be on my mind especially on those days when, I wonder, what the heck I am doing at my age.

    • http://www.joeyo.org/ Joey O’Connor

      What a wonderful story Juanita…you’re my new inspiration. You are NEVER to old to pursue your creative talents and abilities.

      What a wonderful example to everyone who will read your response here. Congratulations on making it to your Junior year! What are you plans for when you finish? (Not that you need any at this point…learning is wonderful for learning sake).

      On the days you wonder what the heck you’re doing, remind yourself you’re doing a heck of a wonderful thing!

  • David

    Hey Joey, it’s a real treat to find someone who appreciates Dan Wallin. Way back in the late-1970s I had the good fortune to do studio work with two rock bands at Warner Brothers Burbank Studios. The engineer was Danny Wallin – who also doubled as producer (in the industry, he’s “Danny”). He was as friendly as he was professional. I still have the recordings from the first group, “The John Dunn Band”. I played the bass parts and provided backup vocals. Danny took a liking to me because I did all my parts in one take. He let me sit behind the board and help him tweak knobs during the mixing process. It was the opportunity of a lifetime. During breaks in recording, the guys in the band would roam the Warner Brothers back lot – and watch ’em make movies.

    The 2nd group, “Shepherd” went on to perform on an episode of the TV show, C.H.I.P.S.. By then, the drummer and I had left to form “The Bings”, a Power Pop / New Wave band that was very popular around Southern California in the early ’80s. The John Dunn band’s guitarist and drummer went on to form “The Hollywood Squares” who made the Billboard Hot 100 with “Hillside Strangler” (the only ’70s Punk record to chart in Billboard). The guitarist for “Shepherd” went on to lead one of LA’s top blues bands, “Lookin’ For Trouble”. Singer and Keyboardist, John Dunn was killed in a car crash in December 1980. He left behind his wife, Barbara – Dan Wallin’s daughter.

    “Well, it’s 5 years since your post, and Dan Wallin is 90 years old. I wouldn’t be surprised to find he’s still at it. Joey, thanks very much for your post.