Legendary record producer Rick Rubin made Kanye West’s Yeezus, which took over at number one on the Billboard charts this month for another Rubin production, 13, Black Sabbath’s first album in thirty-five years. Andrew Romano, senior writer for Newsweek and recent contributor to the Things My Father Taught Me, explained in his interview with Rubin, “Few, if any, other producers have ever managed such a feat.”
Like anyone my age, you too are a Rick Rubin fan. As the title to Romano’s piece suggests, “You listen to this man every day.” As I read his piece, I recalled when I first heard of Rubin.
Rob Laux took over as my swim coach when I was eleven. He was short. He had sandy blonde hair, wore a polo shirt embroidered with his name, fitted cargo shorts, thick rag wool socks, and Hi-Tec Hiking Boots.
Rob was a Beastie Boys fan.
One night after practice, he gave me a CD of Licensed to Ill, and, knowing my mother would disapprove, he said, “Keep it in your swim bag.” I rushed home and put on my headphones. I pored over the cover art as John Bonham’s drum introduction on Led Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks” blared into my foam-covered Sonys. For the next forty-five minutes, I was transfixed.
The next night, I ran onto the pool deck. “Rob, Rob, Rob.” Throughout that practice, we listened to the album, and he relayed some stories from high school. One that stood out, one that Rubin shares with Romano, was that he’d heard The Beastie Boys’ producer Rick Rubin rooted “Girls” in the Isley Brothers’ “Shout.” For a time, I couldn’t jump on the blocks until I’d listened to all two-and-a-half minutes of “Brass Monkey.”
At sixteen, I started DJing parties and dances. At one point in time, most evenings, standing on the light bar, I’d encourage kids to swap the word “Shout” for “Girls” when I played Otis Day’s version from Animal House.
Place would go crazy.
So many good, informative parts to this interview. Kudos, Mr. Romano.
“Sorry, man. Auditions are over today, a’ight?”