A Tree Branches Out

Photo: Sonja Myers

Perhaps classmates remember his "strange desire" to become the Tree back in 1993. His tryout, which he describes as "a bit dirty," certainly made an impression in the judges' minds. More likely, though, the vision of Charles Goodan wearing only a sock, Jell-O and yellow body paint is something his classmates choose to forget.

Their memories may have been jogged last February when Goodan appeared at L.A.'s Staples Center-sporting a tuxedo this time-to collect a Grammy for co-producing the Album of the Year, Santana's Supernatural. "It was a mad scene, standing on stage with Carlos Santana, looking out onto all those famous people," he recalls. Of the dozen or so people who helped put together the winning CD, Goodan and his co-workers at Dust Brothers Music accepted their trophy for producing the song "Wishing It Was."

As a staff producer for Dust Brothers, Goodan has worked on projects ranging from Gap commercials to the newest Beck album to the score for the hit movie Fight Club. His contributions include writing music, playing background baritone guitar and keyboard during studio recording sessions, and working on his Mac to cut and paste tracks "until I get it just right." For the Santana hit, composed by Goodan's two bosses, he recorded the band-without guitar-in the Bay Area, edited the track in his L.A. office, then integrated the final element: take after take of Santana's guitar solo, which the artist insisted came only after everything else was together.

Working with a song from start to finish is unusual for a producer, says Goodan's co-worker, Art Hodge. "In a typical studio, there are engineers, producers and musicians, but Charles does all that." In August, Hodge and Goodan split off to launch their own production company, The Other Brothers-"so we could own our own music," Goodan says.

At Stanford, he majored in music, science and technology, a little-known concentration that mixes music recording, theory and history with lots of computer programming. But that wasn't the only reason Goodan chose the Farm. The descendant of at least five other alums, he grew up dreaming of attending Stanford. And, of course, there was the lure of becoming the Tree, an honor surpassed only by the Grammy on his mantel.


--Jen Davis, '99