Phil Maffetone

In 2002, I woke with an intense passion to become a songwriter. The feeling was not a fleeting emotion—it was among the most powerful moments of my life. As far back in life as I remember, my mind had music, and in time it was evident that it was original music—it was just always there. It was now obvious, I finally had to do something about it.

I quickly dismantled my successful 25-year career as a complementary sports medicine doctor, and started making music, at least attempting it.

Growing up as a ravenous popular music consumer in the 1960s, and a bit of classical music I would occasionally hear at home, learning to play it always eluded me. Like many of my peers, I tried learning popular songs with the same three guitar chords but without success. So when I woke that April morning, suddenly as a songwriter, it was both exhilarating and a bit confusing. Just what does a songwriter really do? I would soon learn the amazing journey of translating feelings into musical compositions, but was unaware that the sharp curve in the road I had taken was a fast track into the music world.

For three days I paced back and forth, in between failed attempts at learning new chords. Then, on day four, producer Rick Rubin contacted me. It was not because of my musical talents, which were still in hiding. Rather, Rick had read one of my books about health and wanted to consult with me. I immediately told him that my career as a doctor was over because I had just become a songwriter. We laughed then quickly agreed to help each other in our endeavors.

I started spending time in Los Angeles with Rick, rubbing elbows with great songwriters, and being the proverbial fly on the wall during recording sessions, dinner’s, and parties. I was experiencing the music scene from its deepest and most creative spaces. It also led me to work as a doctor with Johnny Cash, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Damien Rice, and many others. All these and other experiences helped unleash my personal creativity.

The relationship between Rick and me continues today—he is healthy and I have recorded six albums.

(Hear Rick’s interview by Tim Ferriss, which takes place in his large sauna in between ice bath plunges, where he talks about getting healthy, and his unique music producing style.)