May 3, 2007
One year after the Dixie Chicks popped up on the Time 1oo, the magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people, their producer Rick Rubin has been included in the 2007 list. It’s only fitting then that the accompanying essay is written by Natalie Maines:
I didn’t know what to expect at our first meeting. When I asked other people what he was like, the word guru consistently came up. I had horrifying visions of banjo meditation and a Dixie Chicks album inspired by a sense of inner peace. I wasn’t up for either of these things. To my relief, neither was he.
Rick, 44, is a man of few words who exudes confidence without arrogance. He has a natural intuition when it comes to music. What would seem like an opinion coming from someone else is simply fact when Rick says it. Rick doesn’t tell you how you should play it; he tells you when you have nailed it. When people know they can try things, they begin to relax and really listen to a song. They stop focusing on what’s written on the page and start listening to the music and where they fit into it. It may take longer, but I think it’s the key to why Rick’s albums all sound so individual and honest. He has the ability and the patience to let music be discovered, not manufactured. Come to think of it, maybe he is a guru.
At the Grammys earlier this year, no one person garnered more applause than Rick Rubin, who wasn’t even in attendance. The industry audience roared every time he was thanked by the Chicks and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and also when Don Henley announced that Rubin had won the Non-Classical Producer of the Year Grammy. Maines captures the very reason he has been able to push artists ranging from Neil Diamond and Johnny Cash to the Chicks and Chili Peppers to make some of their best music. It’s cool to see a producer acknowledged for a change. He’s the best in the business these days.
Check out some of his essential works:
Beastie Boys, Licensed to Ill
Run D.M.C., Raising Hell
Red Hot Chili Peppers, Blood Sugar Sex Magik
Johnny Cash, American Recordings
Tom Petty, Wildflowers
Nine Inch Nails, Further Down the Spiral
Johnny Cash, Unchained
Neil Diamond, 12 Songs
Dixie Chicks, Taking the Long Way
Red Hot Chili Peppers, Stadium Arcadium