Watching so many people creating a collective effort to rejoice and celebrate. We were different -- and I mean this in a soulful, gentle way -- than the squares and curmudgeons. The real hippies, not the ones with the fake mustaches and fake hair and fake flowers, had ideals and principles about sharing. Songs like “All You Need Is Love,” “Imagine” or “One Love,” those are hippie songs, because they believe in unity and harmony for the whole planet. Jesus was the first hippie that I know. He had long hair, and I know he was really high. He was passing around gluten-free bread and mercury-free fish.
You recorded 49 songs in 10 days, but only 11 made it onto Africa Speaks. What will happen with the rest?
There were probably 20 songs that I would have settled on. But because of time, because we had to ask permission from the original musicians we took the templates from -- we came up with new lyrics and melodies -- these are the people who responded. [The other songs] we allow to be in incubation, and at the right time we will get the right artist to come in. I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag, but musicians like Sting or Lenny Kravitz can do justice to the energy.
Had you ever churned out that many songs in that short amount of time?
No, it’s the first time. But I’m sure I can do it over and over and over again under the right circumstances.
You and Rick Rubin are both intensely spiritual. How did that help you two connect?
Not to get so esoteric, but he aspires for the same thing that I aspire. We want impeccable integrity, we love excellence, and we love genuine authenticity. So it’s just natural, normal that we would collaborate. When you trust, there’s thrust -- velocity, speed. If you don’t trust, you’re crawling.