Lanois swerved to miss the driver, instead hitting a small telephone equipment box on the sidewalk. "I blacked out. When I came to, I was looking at the sky, and people were trying to help me. Somebody called 911, and that was it. They hauled me away.”
Lanois, 58, had a broken collarbone, a fractured pelvis, six broken ribs and internal bleeding—a problem that still plagues him and has to be regularly monitored and drained. "Hey man, I'm lucky to be alive," Lanois told The Canadian Press this week in a telephone interview from California, where he's recuperating.
"It could have been spinal,” he added. Luckily, I was wearing a full-face helmet. It could have been a head injury. It could have been anything. I almost died."
Lanois called it was just an unfortunate, old-school accident. "Nothing high-speed or anything. Just 35 miles an hour." But it left him sequestered in intensive care in a California hospital for three weeks. Upon returning home, he was tended to by nurses, day and night.
He wasn't able to walk at first, and still faces a long recovery. He laughs when telling how he solicits sympathy for his condition. "I'm using the Ray Charles technique, which is to act more blind when the girls come 'round."
Lanois thanked his fans for their outpouring of support, which he said lifted his spirits. "It has been kind of overwhelming and very sweet to receive so much attention," he said.
Lanois has won Grammy Awards for his collaborations with Bob Dylan, U2 and Emmylou Harris. In Chronicles, Dylan credits Lanois with prying him out of a deep slump. Dylan's two Lanois-produced albums, Oh Mercy (1989) and Time Out of Mind (1997), offered what was among his best work since the mid-seventies.
Though he still cannot fly, the accident has not kept Lanois from resuming work on Neil Young's latest album, which will be out in late fall. "I've worked with Neil over the years in small doses...there's an automatic communication system that exists between two Canadian dogs. I think I finally met my match."
We wish a continued good recovery to Daniel Lanois, a great under-appreciated force in making some of the best records of our time.
Photos by Frank Beacham