Paul Martinson had a quiet charimsa, a soft-spoken sense of authority, a keen sensitivity to sound and personalities — the kind of qualities desirable in a recording engineer.

Martinson, who famously engineered Bob Dylan’s landmark "Blood on the Tracks" album in December 1974 at Minneapolis' Sound 80 studio and worked as a recording engineer for five decades, died Tuesday. He was 71.

"Paul Martinson had a spiritual sincerity, a quiet charisma that connected with artists of all stripes," said Minneapolis musician Kevin Odegard, who played guitar on the Dylan sessions and later wrote a book about it. "Paul treated everyone with respect and dignity, from the janitor at Sound 80 and the church choir of Wahpeton, North Dakota to greats like Leo Kottke and Bob Dylan. He listened to more than your music. Paul cared about your soul."

A Minneapolis native, Martinson grew up in a musical family. He sang in school and church choirs and, after graduating from the University of Minnesota, he spent his entire career as an engineer. in music and film production with Empire Photosound, Sound 80, Bajus Jones Film Corporation, and 74th Street Recording Studio (in which he was a partner).

Martinson was at the controls when Dylan famously re-recorded five songs from "Blood on the Tracks" in Minneapolis — less than three weeks before the album was released.

"Dylan loved Paul’s live studio mix of ‘Tangled Up In Blue’ so much that he refused to mix it or process it in any way," Odegard said. "That song went straight to the pressing plant just as he heard it, and remains today the most-played song in Dylan’s entire recorded catalog."

Martinson worked on at least a half-dozen Kottke albums, projects by Cat Stevens, Jonathan Winters and Dave Brubeck and recordings by many Minnesota musicians including Lonnie Knight and Michael Monroe.

Martinson is survived by his wife, three children, five grandchildren and three siblings.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Monday at Mount Olivet Church in Minneapolis.


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