Ryan Adams is one of the best songwriters of all-time, fact. Solo, Cardinals, Whiskeytown; whatever incarnation he’s in, he can’t help but write great songs.
‘Heartbreaker’ is still regarded as an ‘entry-point’ into the acoustic singer-songwriter world. You can’t even begin to start your craft without listening to that record; it’s almost like a guide to great songwriting. He possesses it all - a great voice, great songs, great hair, great studio, great drug stories; and an incredible wit that surpasses most stand-up comedians.
He’s set up quite nicely now in his Pax-Am studio in Hollywood, hosting guests such as Johnny Depp & Alice Cooper for some late-night jam sessions, as you do. He reveals some great stuff, in what may be the only Buzzfeed article of any interest ever.
I read somewhere he writes like 3-4 songs a day, they just pour out of him. I really admire that the most about him; nothing will ever beat hard work. And the worrying thing for everyone else is, each song he writes is great. To name a few, 'La Cienega Just Smiled', 'Wild Flowers', 'You Will Always Be the Same', 'So Alive', 'The Shadowlands', 'Strawberry Wine', 'Goodnight Rose', 'I Love You But I Don't Know What to Say'.... the list is literally pages long, I can’t even begin to touch upon the vastness of his catalogue.
There is one theme that Ryan does come back to a lot, and that’s naming women with City names. ‘O My Sweet Carolina’ is the most famed of them, but my favourite track from his has to be ‘Dear Chicago’. Those lyrics are just something else; I can picture every movement, backdrop and emotion he’s describing in that story. He’s a true poet, but it’s almost like he channelling some ‘serious’ musician to sing through him, and the rest of the time he just goofs off and jokes around. You know people like that have got something special when they switch between the two so instantly, Jeff Buckley did it a lot too.
The other weird thing about him that I find so endearing is that he has a genuine love for deathcore metal, it’s like his favourite music. He even wrote an album in said style called ‘Orion’, that he dedicated to Denis D’Amour of Voivod. He said in an Abbey Road Ch4. Interview that he knows he was put on this planet to write the music he writes, but he can’t help but love death metal.
One more track I have to mention from him, is the absolutely heart-breaking ‘Elizabeth, You Were Born to Play That Part’. It was written from the perspective of his close friend, who had a stillborn baby that had already been named. According to Ryan, his friend never recovered from it. The lyrics are a lot to take in and can be very sobering, but it’s a beautiful gesture that I hope bought some solace to her.