Thanks to this Stereogum piece, I came across the below Instagram post by Ryan Adams, celebrating the 15th anniversary of Gold, which is my default DRA record to listen to, when I’m feeling like listening to some Ryan Adams. I’ve undoubtedly spent more time following and investing myself in his career than I have any other musician, artist, etc. With regularity, my friends and I will go back and forth on his records, shows we’ve seen, bandmates or arrangements that we liked/disliked.
“I’ve had a pretty hard life for such an easy heart.” – “Easy Harts” | Whiskeytown | Pneumonia, 2001
I spent a good chunk of my twenties trying to emulate who I thought he was through his songs: a lonely, albeit defiantly stubborn, person who never loses sight of the beauty around him, even when that beauty haunts him. It was easy to romanticize that kind of life, especially during years where I was living mostly alone, trying to establish myself as an adult and cope with the generally bare and indifferent fact that life is hard. I was in Chicago, a novice teacher, struggling to maneuver through a mean-ass city that showed me its best and worst everyday. I don’t know how often I showed those things back, but having his songs as a soundtrack to that life made me think that, for better or worse, maybe I was.
I’ve got a really good heart, I just cant’ catch a break / if I could, I’d treat you like you wanted me to, I promise
– “Two” | Ryan Adams | Easy Tiger, 2007
The line toward the end of his post is most captivating to me, because it’s a pretty good summation of the orientation, and really, relationship, I’ve had with his music: “We are all out here drifting on the sea of nothing with our flashlights and lighters waving. Let that light shine.”
Most of the time, I desperately want to disagree with that premise, though I can’t say how much fully I do. But I fully embrace his conclusion. And for as generally unremarkable as it might seem — it’s got to be more ethereal or even difficult than that, right? — it does seem as though I’m most alive when I feel free to share and give of myself; I feel that in other people to. And that is not such a bad thing.
Life’s gotten simple since
And it fluctuates so much
Happy, and sad, and back again
We’re not cryin’ out too much
– “Dear Chicago” | Ryan Adams | Demolition, 2002
Happy Anniversary, Gold.
GOLD… 15 Years Ago today. Happy Anniversary to this awesome chapter in my life. ….the title refers to the color of the buildings and hills at dusk in LA. I was living in the Roosevelt Hotel when I recorded this. I had so many cool songs, ideas, so many memories that had become technicolor from how black and white they had been only a year before. I knew I wanted to capture that after having toured the world by myself, solo show after solo show. I had one harmonica and it was rusted and knicked- I threw it in the LA River. I wanted to explore hope again. I wanted to write songs about what it felt like to be kissed again. To feel like hot fireworks in a roof in a paper bag. I wanted to live. I’m so grateful I stayed who I was and made this leap when all anyone wanted was Heartbreaker part 2. You gotta be who you really are- not something people can sell. I never have had that problem. It labeled me difficult but it also meant I wouldn’t have to pretend I didn’t have something to say. I did. If you don’t, put down the guitar and go work at Old Navy. Let the people who do get by. They’ll be staring back at you in the dust anyway. Truth has a way of doing that. For all those heartbreaking times, confusion, alcoholism, struggle with the label, I got up and made this. This and so so so many more songs that aren’t even on this. And I’m so proud I did. I even wrote a love song about scientifically wishing redshift wasn’t a cosmological reality- and that the universe was coming together not drifting apart. Now I know it doesn’t matter where other galaxies and stars are going- just that people remember we are the same distant traveler to each other, bluer and bluer each year, and to shine just as bright. We are all out here drifting on the sea of nothing with our flashlights and lighters waving. Let that light shine. Here’s to that. Happy 15th, GOLD. And to that kid that made this, that wild ass, determined, stubborn kid, if I could reach back in time far enough I would give him the biggest hug he ever had. He wouldn’t know how bad he was gonna need that. DRA