Rick Rubin: My Life in 21 Songs

From LL Cool J to Kanye West, Slayer to Tom Petty, Johnny Cash to Dixie Chicks, producer reflects on more than three decades of challenging music's status quo

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Andrew Dice Clay, "Hour Back ... Get It?" (1990)

That album, The Day the Laughter Died, was at a time when he was the most popular comedian in the United States, selling out Madison Square Garden, and his fans were rabid. But when he was writing and rehearsing material, I would see him do these shows where he would get up at 2 o'clock in the morning, and there would be six people in an audience. It might be tourists who would come from out of town, thinking they were gonna see comedy and getting Dice and being horrified. For us — we worked with a guy named Hothead Johnny — we laughed the hardest at the shows where the audience didn't like Dice. It was just so funny and combative, like performance art. He'd say these horrible, hateful things. And if you say something horrible and hateful and everybody laughs, it's a joke. But if you say something horrible and hateful and nobody laughs, it's kind of scary. It's really a weird feeling.

So at the height of his popularity, we had the idea we'd put him in front of a small audience that just didn't like him. It was really counter to what we did, so "anti" his real career. It was very bold of him to do it.

"Hour Back … Get It?" means nothing. It's a routine he personally found very funny and nobody else found it funny. He had a friend named Auerbach, and it was sort of a play on his friend's name. So maybe the whole joke might have just been to make one person laugh who wasn't there. It couldn't have been more of an inside joke. It wasn't even a joke.

What you hear is a guy saying things that are sometimes funny, sometimes not. But his commitment to how funny he thinks it is, and how hard he's selling it to nothing, to no response, is what's so funny. It's, like, he's so convinced that this is funny. In a way, it's got this existential quality. Of all the Dice albums, it's my favorite.

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