Rick Rubin’s Source
I was fortunate enough, a few months ago, to get a sneak look at an upcoming book called The Creative Act by Rick Rubin. Do you know who Rick is? He’s been called the Godfather of Hip-Hop. His recording studio, Shangri-La in Southern California, is and has been a mecca for everybody from the Beastie Boys to LL Cool J, to Run DMC, Public Enemy and many more.
Rick is a great believer in inspiration.
He calls it “Source.”
Rick’s book was a mind-blower for me because his view of Source is that it’s omnipresent. Like the trade winds, Source is a global, non-stop, open-all-night atmospheric phenomenon. Seeking Source is not like searching for a truffle in the woods, where you have to sniff out the one tiny, elusive germ of brilliance. Source is everywhere, Rick believes. And everyone is tapped into it.
Rick is famous for bringing a band into his Shangri-la studios to write and record an album. He doesn’t interfere or offer musical ideas. Instead he facilitates. His contribution, like that of a great movie director, is to create an environment of safety and freedom in which the artists can be as bold and crazy (or nasty) as they want to be. Take risks. Swing for the seats. Work in ways you’ve never tried before.
Rick will appear in the studio like a barefoot Obi Wan-Kenobi and suggest to his guys that they write their next song backwards, or in another language, or in ten minutes with no revisions. Then he’ll leave and no one will know where he went or when he’s coming back.
If you ask Rick what his job is, he’ll say, “Serving Source.”
Rosanne Cash likes to say that a songwriter has to travel everywhere with a catcher’s mitt. Ideas for tunes and albums are constantly zinging through the atmosphere. “I’ve gotta catch ’em,” Rose says, “before they wind up with Lucinda Williams.”
The Cosmic Radio Station.
They’re real. And they’re sensational.
P.S. Today is our first beta-version of a new way of delivering these Writing Wednesday posts—directly, without an intervening “Click here to read the post” link. Whaddaya think? Like it? Hate it? Does the white-text-on-black-background work for you? How can we make it better? Thanks for any comments. Be brutally honest!