Rick Rubin, the super-producer's super-producer, may claim to 'know nothing about music', an assertion somewhat undermined by his stellar AAA recording career, but he definitely knows what he likes, and when he speaks, we listen.
Now, in an interview with Mojo magazine (via NME), he's gone on record about his admiration for Paul McCartney's bass playing. It's an uncontroversial position, for sure, but Rubin, as ever, has interesting things to say about Macca's musicianship and "simple" approach to songwriting.
"You just think of him as Beatle Paul," said Rubin, "yet in my opinion, he is the best of all bass players, he’s number one.”
“Paul McCartney the bass player, or Paul McCartney the musician, because he plays everything – that’s a story little told."
Rubin continues, “What blew my mind was when he sat at the piano and he started showing me how to write a song.
"He was saying, 'See, you could do it like this', and what he was showing me was the simplest thing, but then he starts moving his fingers around slightly, and all of a sudden it evolves into Hey Jude or Let It Be.
"He’s using this technique that any child could do, then it morphs into one of the greatest songs of all time!”
Rubin, currently ubiquitous on promo duties for his recently-released creative manual The Creative Act: A Way of Being, (opens in new tab) got an up-close-and-personal look at McCartney's approach to music making and his unrivaled back catalog during the filming of 2021's excellent mini-series McCartney 3, 2, 1 (opens in new tab) (below).
It was during that show that Rubin reminded McCartney that John Lennon had once called him “one of the most innovative bass players of all time,” and “a great, great musician.”
If his collaborators are anything to go by, it's McCartney's simplicity of approach that's key to his musicality. This week, his Wings compatriot Denny Laine also enthused about Macca's gifts, praising his understated drumming saying "He got a lot of his style playing with Ringo, because Ringo’s a very basic drummer."