Rick Rubin has a well-earned rep for reviving the careers of aging legends like Johnny Cash and Neil Diamond. But Crosby, Stills & Nash will not be adding their names to Rubin’s list of accomplishments anytime soon. Because those guys hate the shit out of Rubin.
In a recent Music Radar interview, Graham Nash talked a bit about a scrapped full-length collaboration between Rubin and the group, calling the sessions “contentious” and “not a great experience” and claiming that the two parties “rubbed each other the wrong way.”
The problem, as Nash tells it, was that Rubin likes to tell his collaborators what to do, and the CSN dudes aren’t about to take instruction from some beard-come-lately who was still co-founding Def Jam in a dorm room when David Crosby was well on his way to liver-replacement. Here’s what Nash says:
“After almost 50 years of making records, we think we know what we’re doing, so it’s very hard to tell Crosby, Stills and Nash what to do. You can suggest anything you want, but you can’t tell us what to do… Rick said, ‘There will only be one Beatles song. Crosby said to him, ‘There’ll only be one Beatles song if we decide there will be one Beatles song.’ You know, like, ‘Who the fuck are you to tell me…’… We felt like we had this guy who was telling us what to do all the time. I mean, who the fuck is Rick Rubin? I know he’s sold millions of records, but who the fuck is he to tell Crosby, Stills and Nash what to do? Guide us — yes. Make suggestions — fantastic. ‘Try it this way’ — no problem. But don’t tell us what to do. You can’t.”
Nash still calls Rubin “a brilliant man” and notes that the group is still working on a new album. They’ve even re-recorded a few of the tracks from those Rubin sessions.