Rick Rubin

Mar 10, 1963

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From Wikipedia:

Frederick Jay “Rick” Rubin (/ˈruːbɪn/; born March 10, 1963) is an American record producer and former co-president of Columbia Records. Along with Russell Simmons, he is the co-founder of Def Jam Recordings and also established American Recordings. With the Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Public Enemy, Geto Boys, and Run-DMC, Rubin helped popularize hip hop music.

In 2007, MTV called him “the most important producer of the last 20 years”,[3] and the same year, Rubin appeared on Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. […]

In July 2021, “McCartney 3,2,1”, a documentary miniseries starring Paul McCartney and Rick Rubin, was released. From paulmccartney.com, May 17, 2021:

In the series, Paul McCartney sits down for a rare in-depth one-on-one with legendary music producer Rick Rubin to discuss his groundbreaking work with The Beatles, the emblematic 1970s arena rock of Wings and his 50-plus years as a solo artist. In this six-episode series that explores music and creativity in a unique and revelatory manner, the documentary gives a front-row seat to Paul and Rick in an intimate conversation about the songwriting, influences, and personal relationships that informed the iconic songs that have served as the soundtracks of our lives.

Let’s rewind for a second and go back to the beginning. What was the first great song or sound that you can remember hearing?

The Beatles, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Music,” the Chuck Berry cover. I was probably 4, and I can remember feeling electrified. That was the first real rock ‘n’ roll I’d ever heard.

What is it about the Beatles? What made them work?

It transcends everything. It’s much bigger than four kids from Liverpool. For me the Beatles are proof of the existence of God. It’s so good and so far beyond everyone else that it’s not them.

Rick Rubin – From Rick Rubin on Crashing Kanye’s Album in 15 Days (newsweek.com), June 27, 2013

From Hulu on Twitter : “Untold stories and unheard music. Journey back with Paul McCartney and Rick Rubin in #McCartney321, now streaming. https://t.co/Y1x1tn1lke” / Twitter
From Hulu on Twitter : “Untold stories and unheard music. Journey back with Paul McCartney and Rick Rubin in #McCartney321, now streaming. https://t.co/Y1x1tn1lke” / Twitter
From paulmccartney.com, December 16, 2020

I was re-watching some of McCartney 3,2,1 last night and that is an incredible watch. I don’t think it’s possible to be a music fan and to not just love hearing that man talk about those songs and your infectious enthusiasm for unpacking them, and your curious questions he’s clearly responding to you… It’s just such a gift to the world that little six-part series… That’s me as a fan talking of course. What what did you get out of that experience, Rick?

It was like a dream. I can’t believe it. I’m glad it was filmed because I wouldn’t have believed that it happened. I would have thought that I dreamed it. As a lifelong Beatles fan, I love the music more than anything. They’re by far my favorite group and to hear Paul tell the stories of how things happened and to be able to hear those stems that hadn’t left Abbey Road before, it was just spine chilling. I couldn’t believe it. You know at first it was intimidating but as soon as the music started playing, the music just takes over and I could feel he loved it as much as I did, you know. He’s a fan of it as much as I am and that’s the way it works. It’s like the people who make these things were making it out of love. It’s all fandom whether you’re in the audience or whether you’re making it. You’re making this thing that you love and then you get to share it and once you’ve made it and now especially, in the Beatles case 50 years later, I don’t think that Paul has much opportunity… I don’t think he’s ever gone back and listened to individual stems before… Why would he? He’s making it again, he’s always moving forward, he’s always making new music. So it allowed him to experience, you know, when you hear one part… It could open a door in him that hasn’t been opened in 50 years and that’s really exciting and I think he was surprised by it. He seemed genuinely excited by what he was hearing and really having fun.

You said the word ‘intimidating’ a minute ago, why? Say more about that…

There are certain artists who are so great, and I think of Paul as one, I think of Neil as one, that… I remember the first time I got to see Paul McCartney playing live… It was in the stadium 70 or 80,000 people and he came out and he started, whatever the first song, it was a classic Beatles song, I can’t remember which one and immediately I started crying and I couldn’t believe that the person who made the music that I’ve been listening to since I was a tiny child, that that person walks the planet. How can the person who wrote and sang those songs that have been so ubiquitous in my life, how can he exist? Because in my world The Beatles are a myth, it’s mythology, it’s Mount Olympus. This was not even meeting them, this was just being one of 80,000 people hearing them sing, yeah it was completely overwhelming. So now years later, the initial feeling is always like “oh it’s that guy who did all those things” but then very quickly you realize, when I meet young artists, sometimes they treat me with some trepidation, and I was just like “fine we’re all just people, it’s all fine” and it turns into that fast but when you first meet someone like that, the legend looms large. So it looms large with Neil, it looms large with Paul and they’re a bunch of artists where it’s just like “I can’t believe it”.

I’m kind of thrilled to hear that, because you’ve worked with so many great artists and I guess at a certain level, whether it happens quickly or takes a while, you realize that it is people trying to do good work and you’re, as a producer, trying to help bring that out of them, but yeah I’m thrilled to hear that you had that with Paul and there’s some moments early on, in this series, where you’re sitting cross-legged on the ground, Paul is there with an acoustic guitar showing you how certain songs go, and I’m knowing that you are a lifelong Beatles fan, I was wondering if there was times during those moments in particular where you’re… It’s almost like the teacher/student kind of thing, he’s on a high, you’re on the low, were there moments where you were momentarily transported back to your childhood, where you were just studying those records and absorbing them into your life?

It was an amazing moment because nothing that you see was planned, nothing that happened was planned. So he volunteered to play something and that’s where the guitar was, so he went there and he sat down in the chair to play the guitar, because the guitar didn’t have the strap, so naturally you would sit. And I was standing and it felt awkward, I just felt awkward standing up with him sitting and playing so I moved some stuff around and sat on the floor because it just felt right for us to be closer, I didn’t want to be looking down on him, and it felt like a student watching the teacher and it wasn’t intentional, but clearly that’s what happened.

I also just loved how you were grilling him on the bass line, you isolated the bass and you’re like “dude explain this to me, I don’t understand, how did this come to be” and he was like “I don’t know, it’s just what felt right on the day”

Yeah because if you listen to the song without the bass line, it’s a very simple folk song. But the bass line makes it the Beatles something and one of the greatest songs ever recorded, and the bass is doing the work of a whole orchestra and I never heard anyone play bass like that before.

Yeah that series is a gift and I’m pleased that it had an effect on you I’m just curious, was that filmed all in one day and kind of cut into little bits and pieces?

Two days. I think there’s nine hours of of us talking.

Incredible, how do you think about those two days in hindsight?

It’s still hard for me to believe that it exists. Again I’m happy that there’s a record of it.

Rick Rubin – Interview with The Australian, January 13, 2023

Last updated on January 25, 2023


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