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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Red Hot Chili Peppers, "Breaking the Girl" (1991)

I was living in California at the time, and it was really fun for me to work with the Chili Peppers, because I was new to Los Angeles, and the Chili Peppers were so ensconced in Los Angeles culture. It's like after the Beach Boys, the next California band was the Chili Peppers. They really were the Los Angeles band. That was like my "Welcome to Los Angeles." I loved just going out with them. I got to really experience Los Angeles in a local way being with them, and it was really a beautiful experience.

We recorded in this house that was amazing. It was just a beautiful place and a beautiful vibe. "Breaking the Girl" was the first record we made together, and it had a really beautiful John Frusciante guitar part.

Anthony [Kiedis] sang it in one of the bedrooms on the second floor of the house by himself. He didn't ever want to have anybody see him when he was singing, so he was always kind of in a remote place. We were listening in the control room and speaking to him, and that idea for the rhythm breakdown — I can't remember if it was Flea's or John's idea — but it came up, so everyone played together. So everybody picked their pots or pans or loud metallic instruments for this percussive jam session, and it worked out really cool. It just gave it an interesting flavor on the record and it really stood out.

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