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Rick Rubin Picks His Desert Island Discs

The producer chose tracks by The Beatles, LCD Soundsystem, Simon & Garfunkel, and more to tide him over in complete isolation

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rick rubin desert island discs
The Beatles (Disney+), Rick Rubin (photo courtesy of Herfitz PR), LCD Soundsystem (photo by David Brendan Hall)

    What items would you bring with you to a deserted island? It’s a classic question, and now we have Rick Rubin’s answer: the super-producer appeared on a new episode of the BBC show Desert Island Discs, and he chose tracks by The Beatles, LCD Soundsystem, Simon & Garfunkel, and more to tide him over in complete isolation.

    For track number one, Rubin pointed to The Beatles’ “Across the Universe,” which he said not only taught him the basics of songwriting, but inspired him to learn how to meditate. “From three years old to seven years old, The Beatles was everywhere, and everywhere in my home,” he recalled. “And it somehow imprinted what a great song is, in a very deep level, before I knew that I was looking for what that was.”

    Skipping ahead a few decades, Rubin chose LCD Soundsystem’s “Us V Them.”  “This song represents my time in New York, when I was going to NYU and I was going out to Danceteria every night with the Beastie Boys and with Run DMC and with LL Cool J, and there was this incredible dance music scene going on that had groups like Liquid Liquid and ESG,” the artist recalled. “While LCD was not yet a band, their music is the sound of New York at that period. And LCD Soundystem are actually the best version of any of this music! They perfected it.”

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    If calling the band “the sound of New York” wasn’t compliment enough, Rubin also shared a sweet, more personal connection to LCD Soundsystem: He met his wife at one of their shows, “so they hold an even more emotional place in my soul.”

    Later in the show, Rubin tied Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Dangling Conversation” to a conversation he had in real life. “I can relate it to a story I was told two days ago,” he said. “The person I was speaking to is from Edinburgh, and she said, ‘People from Edinburgh look outward, people from London look inward, and people in Manhattan look inward, and people from Long Island, where i come from, look outward. Growing up on Long Island, I wished I lived in Manhattan, but had I lived in Manhattan, I might have looked inward more than looking outward.”

    Rubin added: “So in some way, the fact that I wasn’t where I wanted to be, physically, geographically, ended up being a good thing, taste wise, in my life.”

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    Check out the complete list of Rubin’s Desert Island Discs below, and listen to his BBC interview here. The producer recently helped the Red Hot Chili Peppers with Return of the Dream Canteentheir second album of the year, while he joined The Strokes at the top of a Costa Rican mountain to record their next album.

    Rick Rubin’s Desert Island Discs:
    01. The Beatles – Across the Universe
    02. Víkingur Ólafsson – …And at the Hour of Death
    03. The Ramones – Rockaway Beach
    04. LCD Soundsystem – Us V Them
    05. Neil Young – I Believe in You
    06. Thomas De Hartmann – Holy Affirming, Holy Denying, Holy Reconciling
    07. Simon & Garfunkel – The Dangling Conversation
    08. Roberta Flack – The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face 

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