The chef at the Grammies

The Dixie Chicks had gone from being the darlings of the country music world to its biggest pariahs. The band had endured death threats, cancelled tour dates and the unbridled hostility of country radio hosts….

The big question, though, was what to do next.

And for that they turned to a very unusual man indeed – the prolific and highly eclectic record producer Rick Rubin, who made his name with rap and heavy rock acts during the 1980s and early 1990s.

It might not have sounded like a good fit at all, except that Rubin had also earned a reputation for rescuing the careers of more seasoned artists looking for a new direction – everyone from Johnny Cash to Tom Petty and Neil Diamond.

One of Rubin’s clients once described him as a “song doctor”, and that’s exactly what the trio from Texas now needed.

He had produced one of the other nominees for album of the year, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ hit Stadium Arcadium, and produced two of the tracks on a third – Justin Timberlake’s Future Sex/Love Sounds. And that’s not to mention Neil Diamond’s big comeback, 12 Songs, and the last, posthumous installment of Johnny Cash’s American Recordings series, A Hundred Highways.

Not too many people outside the music industry have heard of Rick Rubin.