Thursday, July 28, 2005

Best week ever

This is Rick Rubin. The bad-ass of producers, the money-maker of music, the gentle giant of fans, the original mixologist of rap and punk.

Aside from the Man in Black himself, Rick Rubin was the person responsible for giving Johnny Cash the right, bright light at the end of Cash's career.

Next up for Rubin is Neil Diamond. And this time around, Rubin is following the same Cash formula: a stripped-down production with Diamond, his words, his voice, his guitar and little more. The album is due out in November.

Rubin has always been on the cusp of what's interesting in music. Here's a glimpse at his track record as a label owner, album producer or both.
  • Run-DMC, "Raising Hell" (1986)
  • Beastie Boys, "Licensed to Ill" (1987)
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers, "Blood Sugar Sex Magik" (1991)
  • The Jayhawks, "Hollywood Town Hall" (1992)
  • System of a Down, "System of a Down" (1998)
  • Johnny Cash, "American Recordings" (2002)
  • Rage Against the Machine, "Live at the Grand Olympic Auditorium" (2003)

  • -------

    Here's a story. It stars Rick Rubin.

    The year was 1992. I had just graduated from college, moved to L.A. and after many months, some interning, and plenty of shit-taking, I found myself in a good gig at a trendy glossy magazine. (An example of said shit-taking was the insistence from the editor and the publisher, a gay couple, for me to use only the pens they supplied. Nice enough, if only they weren't these 'beefcake' pens that when you turned them down to write, the ink ran out of the swimsuits.)

    I covered music and one of my early assignments was to interview this new band from Minneapolis, The Jayhawks. Interesting enough, though I'd never heard of them. But I was psyched about the interview because it was to take place at the label, Rick Rubin's American Recordings. Even then, I was a fan of Rubin.

    I got to the label in Burbank. There, while I was waiting, I saw Rick Rubin in his office, at his desk. The door was open and there was a clear window of wall that faced into the larger office. So, I watched. Watched him take calls. Watched him laugh. Watched him yell. Watched him pay cash for a delivered pizza.

    The publicist showed up and walked me downstairs to a '50s-style diner on the ground floor. Harmonizer Mark Olson greeted me. The two of us sat down in a booth. I was nervous, young and trying to ask intelligent questions. He was funny, easygoing, and set on giving interesting answers. It was the end of the day.

    By the close of the interview, the entire band had joined us in this now-crowded booth. Not only did this go down as my best interview experience, but that album, Hollywood Town Hall, still ranks in my all-time top 20.

    Skip ahead three days. Friday night in Hollywood. The Jean-Paul Gaultier fashion show at the Shrine. Walking the runaway were Rachel Welch, Billy Idol and a catwalks-worth of other celebs. But the 'boob shot heard 'round the world' that night went to Madonna. Not until I hit the office the next day did a learn that those were only rubber-versions of her chest.

    Later that night, still at the Shrine, I found myself standing next to a dancing Virginia Madsen, watching a live performance of "It's Raining Men" by the Weather Girls. (Odd fact I later learned: Letterman bandleader Paul Shaffer wrote that song--which opens a whole six-pack of other questions.)

    I didn't think life could get any better. Then, it did. As I was waiting at valet in a borrowed Dolce & Gabbana jacket and Gap jeans, I noticed Rick Rubin standing next to me. Most people around us were dressed in evening wear. Rubin was wearing a white t-shirt with holes, blue jeans and Converse shoes. He had just begun to grow his belly. With him was a woman whose style of dress would later inspire Pam Anderson's world.

    At exactly the same moment, our cars arrived. Mine was a Volkswagen Fox with a dent in the then-facing-us right fender. His was a white, stretch limo. I watched as they moved toward the vehicle, not moving at all toward mine. The limo door opened. Out extended a hand followed by two, gorgeous, parted female legs. That hand put a bottle of Jack Daniels into Rubin's. Those legs closed and made room for the other female. Then the four of them--legs, Rubin, pre-Pam and Jack--rode off.


    At 7:49 PM, Blogger Satisfied '75 said...

    what a GREAT story. rubin is so versatile when it comes to the range of genres he can work with. Slayer, Run DMC, Cash, etc.

    I'd love to read your Jayhawks article btw. Link?

    At 9:49 PM, Blogger jsbankston said...

    Splendid! When can we count on seeing your LA memoirs? You have enough stories, don't you?

    Beautifully done story.

    Rubin deserves props for what he did for Johnny Cash if nothing else. I can never watch the "Hurt" video without tearing up.

    The first few times I watched it both Johnny and June Carter Cash were still alive. June looked like a concerned wife who knew her husband was dying, wished she could help, but knew there wasn't a damn thing she could do about it.

    Then the day June died I happened to be in Waterloo Records in Austin and they had a little TV set up and were showing that video in a continuous loop. Now June seemed like a sort of guardian angel watching over Johnny.

    Then after Johnny died the video took on another dimension.

    Well, in one of the many posthumous Cash bios to come out I read that the day before "Hurt" was shot June had found out from the doctor she was terminally ill. She initially kept this news to herself. Knowing this makes the video even more painful.

    At 10:04 PM, Blogger sasefina said...

    What a beautiful story.

    At 10:24 PM, Blogger Alets Klamroth said...

    I thought that there was no way Rubin could go wrong, every time i saw an album that involved him in anyway i was prompt to buy it. But doesn't strike you as a big disappointment that he produced the new shakira album? I guess that no one is inmune to sell out.

    At 10:51 PM, Blogger GorgeouslyGeorgina said...

    i really think you got a cool posting.wanna see more of what you gotta nothin' to say anymore..weheehee..just check me out..

    buzz me up!

    At 11:20 PM, Blogger Satisfied '75 said...

    looks like a hooker is spamming you, TripleJ

    At 11:26 PM, Blogger jsbankston said...

    Speaking of, after John Paul II died, I was looking at a Spanish-language magazine that had a retrospective of the Pope's life, including photos of all the Spanish-speaking celebs who had audiences with him. The funniest picture was of the Pope with Shakira. She'd left the hoochie-coochie outfit at home and was wearing a conservative dress with a mantilla instead.

    Of course, Triplej has a good story about the original Miss Hoochie-Coochie--Charo!

    At 7:27 AM, Blogger incognato said...

    Great story Triple J!

    Oh, and bonus on the pron spam

    At 7:36 AM, Blogger TripleJ said...

    Thanks all ... and re: the porn poster, I prefer to think of it as 'letters' and not 'spam.'

    At 9:02 AM, Blogger Scrubby Nub and The Bothered Brigade said...

    Excellent post, my man. Few have the opportunity to witness true badassness and you did. Jealous to the enth.

    At 10:24 AM, Blogger lilihammer said...

    What more could a reader possibly want out of a story? Brushes with fame, (fake) boobs, Dolce & Gabbana and hooker spam.

    At 1:05 PM, Blogger CHW said...

    Forget the Rubin story. Are you gonna "buzz her up" or what?


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