“I Have No Technical Ability And I Know Nothing About Music”

Rick Rubin is the subject of a lengthy feature on the new 60 Minutes tied to his new book The Creative Act: A Way Of Being. In online excerpts of his interview with Anderson Cooper, the super-producer shared some memories of late-life Johnny Cash and early-career LL Cool J, in addition to talk about turning his NYU dorm room into Def Jam’s office and recording studio.

In the clips, Rubin talks about getting to know Cash by having the country legend share his favorite songs, as well as the ritual they developed of taking communion together every day. He also discusses a teenage LL Cool J constantly calling the phone number on the back of the first Def Jam single in the hopes of connecting with the company. The various videos offer the chance to Cooper concentrating pointedly in multiple contexts, be it listening to Cash’s “Hurt” cover as if it’s the first time he’s ever heard it or, per Rubin’s request, meditating for two minutes before commencing the interview.

Also this:

COOPER: Do you play instruments?

RUBIN: Barely.

COOPER: Do you know how to work a soundboard?

RUBIN: No. I have no technical ability. And I know nothing about music.

COOPER: (LAUGH) You must know something.

RUBIN: Well, I know what I like and what I don’t like. And I’m, I’m decisive about what I like and what I don’t like.

COOPER: So what are you being paid for?

RUBIN: The confidence that I have in my taste and my ability to express what I feel has proven helpful for artists.

Watch below.


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♬ Monkeys Spinning Monkeys – Kevin MacLeod & Kevin The Monkey


No matter what artist he’s working with, Rick Rubin insists making music is a deeply emotional pursuit. “We’re trying to tap into a feeling,” Rubin said. “We’re trying to tap into something that makes you wanna lean forward and pay more attention.”

♬ original sound – 60 Minutes

The full episode is available here.

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