Healing Prayers for Bruce Swedien

One of the greatest sound engineers to ever touch a mixing console. Absolutely heartbreaking. I hope his soul is at peace, and that he and Michael are somewhere out there, making sonic magic once again.
Paris78;4309777 said:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Rest in peace Bruce Swedien &#9829;&#65039;. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MJFam?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MJFam</a> <a href="https://t.co/6onol23k61">pic.twitter.com/6onol23k61</a></p>— Marisa Ramírez (@MarisaRblues) <a href="https://twitter.com/MarisaRblues/status/1328725796903673859?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">November 17, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Your work and help to Michael's work will be cherish by all of us

R.I.P Mr Swedien.

Up there, say Hello to Michael from us.

this is awesome. shoutout to Marisa Ramírez on twitter.

So sad to hear about the news. it's hard to believe. :cry: May he rest in peace.
One of the greatest sound engineers to ever touch a mixing console. Absolutely heartbreaking. I hope his soul is at peace, and that he and Michael are somewhere out there, making sonic magic once again.

Agreed! He was so intrumental to the high quality Michael's records and albums always exuded. Michael's music has to be listened to with head phones to fully appreciate what you called sonic magic.

Rest in Peace, Bruce.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">RIP my dear brother Bruce Swedien - <a href="https://t.co/F2O8kx8VFZ">https://t.co/F2O8kx8VFZ</a> <a href="https://t.co/1jwyMHogN8">pic.twitter.com/1jwyMHogN8</a></p>&mdash; Quincy Jones (@QuincyDJones) <a href="https://twitter.com/QuincyDJones/status/1328778921643450368?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">November 17, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="und" dir="ltr"><a href="https://t.co/rnQVJP1OSF">pic.twitter.com/rnQVJP1OSF</a></p>&mdash; Michael Jackson (@michaeljackson) <a href="https://twitter.com/michaeljackson/status/1328789160962953217?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">November 17, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Rest In Peace <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BruceSwedien?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BruceSwedien</a>, A legend in the music industry for over 65 years and 5-time Grammy winner. You were loved by everyone that knew you. Sending sincere condolences to your family &#10084;&#65039; <a href="https://t.co/7Uo9uiVGlE">pic.twitter.com/7Uo9uiVGlE</a></p>&mdash; Paul Dwyer (@mrpauldwyer) <a href="https://twitter.com/mrpauldwyer/status/1328778743096041472?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">November 17, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Michael Jackson's Thriller engineer, Bruce Swedien, has died aged 86<a href="https://t.co/fBk8luCloJ">https://t.co/fBk8luCloJ</a></p>&mdash; BBC News Entertainment (@BBCNewsEnts) <a href="https://twitter.com/BBCNewsEnts/status/1329058662086828035?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">November 18, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Never Be Late
I think it was early on an album called "Decade". Well, that was it's working title - eventually it would be called "Dangerous". I had been working with Bruce Swedien for a while, and maybe I was getting a tiny bit comfortable.
When you work with Bruce you learn to anticipate what he is going to do and what he will need you to do.
You see, I was his Technical Director for several years working with artists like Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones and Barbra Streisand. Small projects.
Some of these albums took nearly a year to complete, followed by dance mixes, international edits, video mixes, etc. The workflow was intense, yet Bruce always maintained a calm, controlled and lighthearted hand on the helm.
The sessions were amazing to be a part of. Bruce was not only a master of getting music perfectly and artfully recorded, but also creating an atmosphere of fun and excitement. When you were in the control room with Bruce, he made it feel like there was no where else on the planet you would rather be. He was the captain of his ship, and his ship was a studio packed with perfectly calibrated tape machines, racks of compressors, EQs, reverbs and de-essers.
The funny thing is Bruce used remarkably few of those tools, rather he simply recorded the sounds with huge dynamics and minimal noise. When you listen to his raw tracks they sound... perfect.
Before we moved into a new studio, one of my many jobs was to painstakingly go through every patch point, console channel and piece of outboard gear and test and calibrate it.
This often took days to get a studio fully up to the his standard. Nothing was overlooked. When he touched any given piece of equipment he trusted that I had already tested it to avoid problems during the session.
I found and fixed a lot of problems before he walked in the door, which made the sessions run as smoothly as possible.
So when I say that I could anticipate his next move, those are not just words - that was my job.
When we moved from studio to studio it would take a large cartage truck just for his cases of microphones (I think there were about 15 by my count), and his two giant equipment racks.
Plus the speakers.
And the speaker de-couplers.
And the amplifiers.
And the Hewlett Packard test gear.
And the custom blue and yellow patch cables (Swedish colors).
And the computers.
And the custom fader pack.
And the custom meters.
And the beautiful old tape box that he used to write on the track sheets, filled with personal notes from previous sessions.
It was no small undertaking, but I was good at my job, and I was proud of the music we were working on.
So back to the "Decade"/"Dangerous" project.
We booked a drum session, likely with JR (John Robinson) to lay down tracks on one of the songs. I was at the studio very late the night before, prepping tapes for the song. Bruce never, ever, wants to run out of tracks, so we would prepare work-tapes for each song so we could quickly change the tape and have another blank slate for any given song.
Drum sessions are a lot of work and a lot of fun. Every engineer loves to get drum sounds, as this is part of the fingerprint of their personal sound. Plus, most drummers by nature have a great sense of humor, so I loved drum sessions.
My job, under normal circumstances, was to mic the drums before Bruce walked in the door. I knew which mic to use on each drum, I could place it within a few millimeters of what he wanted, and I would start getting the levels dialed in if he wasn't there yet. I had done it many times, and we almost didn't need to talk about it in advance - he could simply walk in and make his final adjustments, get the sound locked and enjoy a few sips of coffee.
Until this session, when I overslept.
I was never late.
Until this session.
I was late.
I walked into the studio, and there was the legendary Bruce Swedien unrolling mic cables, setting mic stands and placing mics on drums. My job.
I quickly and humbly apologized, but all he said was "We'll talk about this later."
Not what I wanted to hear.
We quietly finished setting the mics, getting sounds, and the session went smoothly.
Bruce joked and laughed and everyone had a great time, like you always do on a Swedien session, except me. I tried to laugh at the jokes, but in my back of my mind I knew "later" was coming.
At the end of the day everyone hugged and packed up and left, and I thought maybe he would forget.
He didn't.
I was rolling up cables and putting mics away and he called him into his "office", the control room.
He looked at me and while I don't remember word-for-word what he said, it was pretty close to this: "Do you have any idea who we work with? We are working with Michael Jackson, the greatest singer on the planet."
He didn't yell.
He didn't raise his voice.
But he was dead serious.
He continued...
"Michael chooses the best people to work with, and that's why we are here. There was no reason for you to be late, and I know it won't happen again. See you tomorrow."
And that was it - he never brought it up again.
We travelled together.
We laughed together.
We shared many meals together.
I prepped countless sessions for him, and he thanked me at the end of every day.
It was remarkable to watch him work, and the ease with which his decades of experience allowed him to handle any situation with the calm demeanor of an experienced admiral.
He was the greatest music mixer I have ever known.
He was a true pioneer in the industry.
He was my mentor.
He was my friend.
And I was never late again.
Rest in peace dear friend, I love you and I am grateful for every moment.


<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">RIP to the legendary Bruce Swedien. I was fortunate to have some great conversations with him about working with Michael Jackson on some of the greatest albums of all time. Warm, generous, funny, and brilliant man. <a href="https://t.co/hgTOcekkx8">pic.twitter.com/hgTOcekkx8</a></p>&mdash; Joe Vogel (@JoeVogel1) <a href="https://twitter.com/JoeVogel1/status/1328781414129668096?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">November 17, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Bruce Swedien's love for Michael Jackson on full display. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RIP?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RIP</a> <a href="https://t.co/xVsMbFCYsT">https://t.co/xVsMbFCYsT</a></p>&mdash; andjustice4some (@andjustice4some) <a href="https://twitter.com/andjustice4some/status/1328809285774680064?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">November 17, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Feeling very somber right now after hearing Bruce Swedien passed away. One of the greatest engineers in music history.<br>When I called Bruce I’d always dial his studio first, because I knew that’s where he’d be.<br>“Helllooo Mike from Blighty”, he’d say, in that deep voice.<br>Rip Bruce. <a href="https://t.co/rwar0ALUek">pic.twitter.com/rwar0ALUek</a></p>&mdash; Mike Smallcombe (@mikesmallcombe1) <a href="https://twitter.com/mikesmallcombe1/status/1328784186216509444?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">November 17, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Michael Jackson's Thriller engineer, Bruce Swedien, has died aged 86

Recording engineer Bruce Swedien, whose work on Michael Jackson's albums Bad, Off the Wall and Thriller helped define the sound of 80s pop, has died aged 86.

Swedien's daughter, Roberta, wrote that he "passed away peacefully" on Tuesday, in a message shared on Facebook.

"He had a long life full of love, great music, big boats and a beautiful marriage," she said. "We will celebrate that life. He was loved by everyone."

Quincy Jones also paid tribute, calling Swedien a "sonic genius".

"He was without question the absolute best engineer in the business, and for more than 70 years I wouldn't even think about going into a recording session unless I knew Bruce was behind the board," wrote the legendary producer on Instagram.

"Along with the late great Rod Temperton [writer of Thriller and Off The Wall], we reached heights that we could have never imagined and made history together.

"I have always said it's no accident that more than four decades later no matter where I go in the world, in every club, like clockwork at the witching hour you hear Billie Jean, Beat It, Wanna Be Starting Something, and Thriller.

"That was the sonic genius of Bruce Swedien, and to this day I can hear artists trying to replicate him."

Swedien won five Grammys over the course of his career, three for his work with Jackson and two for his work with Jones, on the albums Back on the Block and Q's Jook Joint.

The engineer also worked with BB King, Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Curtis Mayfield, Rufus and Chaka Khan, Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross and Jennifer Lopez across his long and storied career.

Unique drum sound

Born in Minneapolis in 1934, his interest in music started at the age of 10, when his father gave him a disc recording machine. Four years later, he scored a holiday job at a small local studio, and even set up his own radio station to broadcast the results.

By 21, he was recording the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, but his big break was engineering Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons' single Big Girls Don't Cry, which sold more than a million copies and reached number one on the US R&B charts in 1962.

Swedien first met Quincy Jones when he was in his 20s, and discovered a kindred spirit. "We liked each other a lot," he later recalled. "We think alike and our tastes are alike."

They went on to record jazz artists like Duke Ellington and Dinah Washington together, but it was their work on Michael Jackson's records that really cemented Swedien's reputation.

A key component of those records was the "Acusonic Recording Process", which Swedien pioneered. Essentially, it allowed the engineer to synchronise multiple 24-track tape machines, enabling him to record an almost limitless number of vocal and instrumental takes.

He also came up with several techniques that gave Jackson's albums their unique feel.

To record drums, he built a braced, wooden platform raised 10 inches off the ground, to stop low-frequency sounds reflecting off the concrete floor and colouring the sound. That led to the distinctive, crisp thump that propels songs like Billie Jean and Rock With You.

He also encouraged Jackson to record backing vocals multiple times, taking two steps back from the microphone on every subsequent take. Layering them up, created a "Michael Jackson choir" which, Swedien wrote in his book Recording Michael Jackson, tricked the ear into perceiving depth of field.

Other times, he took a more home-made approach. To create the special effect in verse two of Billie Jean ("do think twice"), he made Jackson sing through a five?foot long cardboard tube.

The star's estate posted a tribute to Swedien on social media, calling him "one of the most imaginative audio engineers to ever walk into a recording studio".

"Bruce's professional collaboration with Michael became a close friendship they both cherished," it continued.

"Bruce was a kind, generous soul who as he grew older continued to share his knowledge of his craft with younger generations.

"He will be missed by all those whose lives and careers he touched."

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One of the people most responsible for the unique sound of Michael Jackson's Thriller album has died. Bruce Swedien was 86 years old when he died Monday. His daughter, Roberta Swedien, announced his death on Facebook, saying that her father "passed away peacefully." No cause of death was given.

Over a career that spanned some seven decades, Swedien (pronounced "swi-DEEN") helped shape recordings by everyone from Count Basie to Barbra Streisand — as well as working closely with Michael Jackson and producer Quincy Jones. Along with Thriller, the trio's work together included Dangerous, and Bad — all netting Swedien Grammy Awards for engineering. (Swedien's other Grammy Awards came courtesy of other Quincy Jones projects: 1989's Back on the Block and 1995's Q's Jook Joint.)

On Tuesday, Quincy Jones paid tribute to his close friend and colleague on Instagram. In part, Jones wrote: "There are not enough words to express how much Bruce meant to me ... He was without question the absolute best engineer in the business, and for more than 70 years I wouldn't even think about going into a recording session unless I knew Bruce was behind the board."

Swedien is best known for recording, mixing, and assisting in producing Thriller — one of the best-selling albums of all time. But his career extended far before and past that era. When he was only 21, the Minneapolis-born Swedien was recording the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for RCA Victor.

He soon moved to working for Universal Recording Studios in Chicago, where he worked with many great jazz artists, including Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Sarah Vaughn. His first big pop hit came in 1962 — with Frankie Valli and the Four Season's "Big Girls Don't Cry." It was also during that period that he first met Quincy Jones, with whom he soon worked on The Wiz -- where he met Michael Jackson.

The long list of marquee artists with whom Swedien collaborated includes Roberta Flack, B.B. King, Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, Diana Ross, Barbra Streisand, Donna Summer and Jennifer Lopez.

GAINSVILLE, Fla., Nov. 19, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Bruce Swedien, legendary five-time Grammy Award-winning recording engineer, died at the age of 86 on November 16, 2020 in Gainsville, Florida after a long illness and complications from surgery.

He is survived by his wife of sixty-seven years, Bea, and his daughters, Roberta Swedien and Julie (Loren) Johnson. He was preceded in death by his son David.

The list of artists Swedien recorded reads like a Who's Who in music: Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, Oscar Peterson, Woody Herman, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Stan Kenton, Dizzie Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington, Barbra Streisand, The Chi-Lites, Eddie Harris, Chaka Khan, Donna Summer, Buddy Miles, Missing Persons, Jackie Wilson, Jennifer Lopez, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, George Benson, Roberta Flack, Siedah Garrett, Patti Austin, James Ingram, Lena Horne, Phil Ford and Mimi Hines, Tommy Dorsey, Dinah Shore, Diana Ross, Herbie Hancock, Edie Gorme, Sergio Mendes, and many more. His movie credits include Night Shift, The Color Purple, The Wiz, and Running Scared.

At the center of everything for Bruce, was the love of his life, Bea Swedien. They were constant companions and a true inspiration to anyone who has ever loved. At a time in the studio business when wives were not allowed to attend sessions, Bruce wouldn't conform. Bea, and often their children, attended many of his recording sessions. Bruce frequently touted how much he loved and appreciated Bea, and Bea's love for Bruce was complete and visible.

Growing up the son of two musicians in Minneapolis, Bruce spent his youth listening to live symphonic orchestras and choirs in fine concert halls, and developing his world-class sense of musical balance. When his parents bought him an audio recorder at the age of 10, he knew immediately that he wanted to devote his life to recording music. He recorded local choirs and many other groups throughout his youth and ended up starting his true journey into the professional audio world when he moved to Chicago in 1957. He landed a position at Universal Studios and was mentored by the iconic engineer, Bill Putnam.

Already know for excellence and hard work, Swedien's career skyrocketed when he teamed up with iconic producer, Quincy Jones, and the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, to create Off the Wall, Thriller (the all-time best-selling album), and Bad. It was during this time that Bruce created a recording processed that he called "The Acusonic Recording Process," which used several 24-track tape machines, synchronized together as one recorder. This process opened up the potential for Swedien's sonic imagination to run wild. His mastery of technique combined with his innate musical sensibility and a virtually limitless sonic canvas, resulted in many of the best recordings of all time—recordings that even today set the standard for the way music should sound. Bruce also recorded Michael Jackson's subsequent albums, Dangerous, HIStory, and Invincible.

Because of its dynamic contrast and shear power, Swedien stated that the recording that he wanted people to remember him by when he died was "Earth Song" by Michael Jackson. He also said frequently that his favorite recording project was Thriller. Quincy Jones said in his thoughtful response to Bruce's death, "He was without question the absolute best engineer in the business, and for more than 70 years I wouldn't even think about going into a recording session unless I knew Bruce was behind the board…I have always said it's no accident that more than four decades later no matter where I go in the world, in every club, like clockwork at the witching hour you hear "Billie Jean," "Beat It," "Wanna Be Starting Something," and "Thriller." That was the sonic genius of Bruce Swedien, and to this day I can hear artists trying to replicate him."

Bruce regularly declared, "It's about the music!" And, we've all been fortunate to experience the sonic excellence, creativity, and musical power that were Bruce Swedien's hallmark. Bruce, you are missed. Love you madly!

Very sad news. May Mr Swedien rest in peace and condolences to his family and friends.
Remembering The Musical Genius Of Master Engineer Bruce Swedien

GRAMMY.com looks back on the career of Swedien, a five-time GRAMMY-winning engineer who shaped iconic albums from Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones

When Bruce Swedien was mixing the Michael Jackson tour de force "Billie Jean," he and the pop star were agonizing over the most granular details of the recording. "I adored Michael, he was the greatest," Swedien once recalled. "He'd say, 'Bruce, that was perfect but let's try one more.' This was mix 80, [but] I said no problem."

By the time Swedien and Jackson were on the 91st mix of the track, the song's producer and frequent Swedien collaborator, Quincy Jones, walked in the studio and implored the two to go back and listen to their initial cuts. "So we played [the second mix we worked on] and it blew it all away. I mean that was the most badass mix and that's what [was released]. Mix two."

It's a story that not only exemplifies Swedien's attention to detail, but also his innate natural talent that earned him legendary status among the titans of the music industry.

"He was without question the best engineer in the business," Jones wrote in an Instagram post upon learning of Swedien's death last month (Nov. 16). "For more than 70 years I wouldn't even think about going into a recording session unless I knew Bruce was behind the board."

This combination of respect and pedigree earned Swedien 12 career GRAMMY nominations, including five GRAMMY wins for engineering for his work on Thriller, Bad and Dangerous, all for Jackson. He also earned two additional engineering GRAMMYs for his work on Jones' albums, Q's Jook Joint and Back On The Block.

"Bruce Swedien's masterful work behind the board helped create iconic music with renowned artists," Harvey Mason jr., Chair & Interim President/CEO of the Recording Academy, said of the celerated engineer in a statement. "His imaginative approach helped shape the sound of pop music, and he was one of the most revered engineers in our industry. We have lost a remarkable talent, but I'm thankful for the music Bruce gave us."

Hailing from Minnesota, Swedien was born to classically trained musician parents; he became enamored with music after his father gave him a rudimentary disc recorder. By 21, Swedien was an engineer for RCA Victor. After honing his craft with jazz icons like Duke Ellington and Stan Kenton, he released his first musical firework from his generation-spanning discography in 1962 with "Big Girls Don't Cry," the seminal Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons hit. With its high falsetto and kinetic drumming, it rocketed to No. 1 and earned the group its first GRAMMY nomination. At the time, Swedien, then 28, was working in-house at Universal Music in Chicago. He later fondly remembered the appearance of "four scruffy-looking guys from New Jersey who headed straight to the vocal booth. It was a great session."

In addition to a zigzagging career, which saw the prolific engineer collaborating with everyone from jazz greats like Ellington and Sarah Vaughn, rock gods like Mick Jagger, divas like Barbara Streisand and contemporary stars like Jennifer Lopez, it was his creative partnership, and close friendship, with Quincy Jones that would define Swedien's career. First meeting in the late-'70s while collaborating on the music for the classic film, The Wiz, the two also crafted hits for the likes of George Benson, including his own GRAMMY-winning song, "Give Me The Night," as well as the gargantuan charity single, "We Are The World."

But it was the dream team of Swedien, Jones, Michael Jackson and songwriter Rod Temperton that helped change the face of pop and turn the former Jackson 5 member into a bonafide superstar.

"[Along with Temperton], we reached heights that we could have never imagined & made history together," Jones, on Instagram, recalled of the partnership, which resulted in Thriller, the best-selling album in music history. "I have always said it's no accident that more than four decades later no matter where I go in the world, in every club, like clockwork at the witching hour you hear 'Billie Jean,' 'Beat It,' 'Wanna Be Starting Something,' and 'Thriller.' That was the sonic genius of Bruce Swedien and to this day I can hear artists trying to replicate him."

In tangent with his ace ear, Swedien was also deft in the technology of production, helping revolutionize new techniques of engineering and evolving the craft. While working on Thriller, he developed a technique to record the tracks in analogue first in pairs, subsequently creating stereophonic recordings. "Digital recording was available and we were all quite impressed with its clarity," he said in 2018. "But if you start the music in digital you can never go back to analogue and it won't sound as good."

His thirst for innovation also forced him to think outside the box, like building a special drum platform and a cover for the bass drum, complete with an integral piece of wood to give the percussion on "Billie Jean" a distinctive sound. When recording Jackson's vocals, he had the pop star stand a few inches from the microphone, then step back even farther for another cut, then another, with Jackson physically moving his mouth along the microphone; once layered, they all created a unique depth. "Here's what I think it really boils down to," Swedien once explained, offering valuable insight into a master at work. "The importance of any musical sound lies not in any inherent acoustical value, but what it signifies in the soul of the listener."

His friend Quincy Jones summed up Swedien's loss on both a personal and creative level. "I am absolutely devastated to learn the news that we lost my dear brother-in-arms," he wrote in the Instagram post. "I'm going to miss your presence every single day 'Svensk', but I will cherish every moment we shared together laughin', lovin', livin', & givin'."

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">via In the Studio with MJ on FB, Bruce Swedien remembered in the In Memoriam section of the Grammys last night. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RIPBruceSwedien?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RIPBruceSwedien</a> <a href="https://t.co/ubcCiMC5Oe">pic.twitter.com/ubcCiMC5Oe</a></p>&mdash; andjustice4some (@andjustice4some) <a href="https://twitter.com/andjustice4some/status/1371524664036528129?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 15, 2021</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>