Since arriving in the U.S. in the 1960s with dreams of musical success, Neil Young has had the privilege of collaborating with many renowned talents. From David Crosby to Pearl Jam and Jim Jarmusch, each partnership has sparked Young’s creative flame.
Though Young can craft music solo, he has shown an equally impressive knack for refining his work post-production. Yet, for him, the thrill of teamwork remains unmatched. He thrives when co-creating with other brilliant minds.
In 1997, Neil Young first partnered with famed producer Rick Rubin. While their initial tracks remained unreleased, Young cherished the experience. Fast forward 25 years, and the duo was back in the studio in Malibu, crafting the album “World Record.” Young described the process as breezy, thanks to Rubin’s efficient techniques.
Rubin’s unconventional approach in the music world can be divisive. For instance, Slipknot’s Corey Taylor once criticized him as “overpaid” and “overrated” post their collaboration on Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses).
However, Rubin’s record speaks for itself. His portfolio boasts collaborations from Johnny Cash to Lana Del Rey. In a chat with Anderson Cooper, Rubin admitted to lacking technical prowess, stating, “I know nothing about music.” Yet, his secret sauce lies in knowing what he loves and what he doesn’t.
This dynamic between Rubin’s instinct and Young’s technical expertise created a harmonious synergy. Reflecting on their partnership with The New Yorker, Young remarked, “Rick is a genius. It’s effortless because of his profound love for music.” He likened Rubin’s passion for preserving music to an environmentalist’s dedication to saving the Earth.
Their combined work ethic was simple: engage until contentment, then rest. Young noted how they’d bond over music, fine-tuning each track until satisfied, never overexerting themselves. Rubin’s go-with-the-flow approach was something Young deeply resonated with.
Their contrasting strengths are exactly why Young and Rubin were such a hit together. Two identical strengths might’ve led to creative tension. Instead, their distinct talents blended perfectly, yielding harmonious results.