For the last twenty years, record executive and producer Rick Rubin has significantly shaped the course of hip hop, rock, and popular music, among other music genres. Thanks to his impact on the industry, he was named as one of Time's "100 Most Influential People in the World."
I've spent a fair amount of time listening to Johnny's Cash's last brilliant albums, which saw the light of day only because Rick Rubin encouraged the Man in Black to record once more. This is the primary reason I chose to listen to Rubin's debut book, The Creative Act: A Way of Being (2023). I also heard a brief clip from one of Rubin's interviews. I appreciated his low, calm voice and accessible wisdom. In fact, listening to Rubin read The Creative Act became an almost meditative experience for me; his pacing certainly left room for reflection on my part.
The Creative Act is not so much a how-to or technical book, as it is a collection of musings on being a creative person. Rubin shares a few of his experiences and exchanges, including tidbits about working with Cash and other great musicians. Rubin also articulates his own artistic process. In doing so, he models possibilities for engaging in artistic expression. The advice Rubin offers isn't necessarily ground-breaking, but it is hopeful and encouraging. It is also woven through with the tenets of Buddhism, which offer readers opportunities to think about creativity as a spiritual practice, if they so choose.
I've read certain reviews that state that The Creative Act: A Way of Being is a kind of vanity project for Rick Rubin. But couldn't we all benefit from a bit of calm reassurance and guidance these days? I, for one, did.