Because I have too much time on my hands…
There were a lot of things wrong with a lot of things this year, but probably one of the most confusing (and sometimes horrifying) things about this year was the ascension of Ryan Adams to alt-country superstardom in the press. Everyone keeps talking about how The Strokes were hyped up and fawned over in the British press and blah blah blah. But you know what? The U.S. press did the same thing with Ryan Adams.
My terrifying experiences with Ryan Adams began in January of this year in London. There were Ryan Adams posters plastered everywhere. I guess he was doing a gig or something and I just remember looking at the picture and going, “Dude- this guy’s name is RYAN ADAMS. AHAHhahahhahahah. He must be a tool.” I think at this point I thought he was some weird British person trying to be American hick. Of course I now know Adams is just an American hick trying to be a weird British person (see Elton John).
(On a side note- am I the only person highly disturbed by the level of stalking Elton John has gone through to attach himself to the Jack D-drunk ass of Mr. Adams? … but then again, in John’s defense–he probably has people who do all that tracking for him. I think Adams is thinking too much of himself….And to add insult to injury, he thanked the former Whiskeytown member in his liner notes… something about making him want to make music again. Noooooo. Oh, and by the way, Macy Gray is probably mad pissed Elton is not plugging her album as much as he used to. Seems as though trying to hit up on Adams is taking too much time away from hanging out with his pot-head self-promoting-skitzo friends. Don’t worry, Macy, you’ve got a gay friend in Rosie O’Donnell.)
So fast forward a bit. Let’s say around June or July. Ryan Adams pops up in almost all the glossys… even NYLON and Blender. Uh oh. He’s become hipster. He gets more American press than The Strokes. Images of a scruffy-haired Adams lounging around (drunk) with ’70’s tinted shades, plaid button-down shirts and tight-fitting dirty denim make it look as though he’s the product of a rejected Calvin Klein ad campaign. (Says Klein, “Dirty denim was soooo Fall 1999! We’ve already whored enough musical talents. We leave that stuff to The Gap now.”) He was the modern day Marlboro Man. Except without a cowboy hat… or a horse… or a square jaw… or a well-built physique. Ok- maybe he was just a 27-year-old chain-smoking alcoholic, but one I could grow to love.
He still had potential.
There have been a few things that have catapulted Ryan Adams to his current status as America’s number one guy with a name that sounds like Bryan Adams. The aforementioned obsession Elton John has with him is one. Another (and probably more disturbing and harmful) reason for Adams-mania is the event I like to call, “Big Buildings Go Boom,” or September 11, 2001. Not too long ago I asked someone, “Who decided that this song (New York, New York) was valid?” Their reply? “Osama bin Laden.”
When Island Records released the “New York, New York” video (slapping on a dedication to the beginning and end of the tape) it was probably with good intentions. They were going to stand by the work of their artist and his vision…. right on. Yes, the Twin Towers were in the video. Yes, it was shot on September 7. Yes, Ryan Adams says “New York” about a million times in the song. And yes, it would probably get a lot of airplay and make a shit load of money and publicity for all parties involved. No harm in that, I guess.
But the thing I guess that pissed me off the most was the critics adulation of this mediocre song. No, that’s not right. I don’t think anyone really said that “New York, New York” was a great song. I just was disturbed it became this huge anthem for New York and such. It became mixed in with all the scary patriotism of the City and the country. This song that happened to mention New York, written by this North Carolina native. And the fact that no one really seemed to care that the song wasn’t really about New York, it was about some ex-girlfriend of Adams–substituting her name with “New York,” where their relationship happened. Everyone also didn’t really seem to care that Gold is really about Los Angeles, not New York. You want Ryan Adam New York? Wasn’t that what Heartbreaker was for?
I wondered what was going on.
Not only that, but at the same time people were giving The Strokes real flack for taking off “New York City Cops” from Is This It. Was a word mentioned about the fact that Gold features a red, white and blue-clad Adams in front of AN UPSIDE DOWN AMERICAN FLAG. This new poster-boy for American patriotism had an UPSIDE DOWN AMERICAN FLAG on the cover of his damn album! Adams is quick to state that the flag is an SOS sign, not an anti-government sign.. so whatever. Match point Adams. It’s suppose to be a call for the singer-songwriter… But where The Boss made his album cover iconic by having a tight ass, all we get is Adams’s Edward Scissorhands ‘do in our faces.
So is the hatred for Ryan Adams a result of unusual circumstances? Is the hate tied to the hate of other things like pseudo-patriotism? Some of it probably is. But then he goes and starts plugging his own praise on his website. Like.. writing Elton John is a fan!. Granted, it’s not him writing it (he’s far to busy spiraling down to a slovenly mess to be bothered with typing shit up on the computer) but it’s the thought that counts.
He also really does make a drunken ass of himself most of the time. When he’s not singing “Rocket Man” with Elton John onstage, he’s usually falling off of it. And for some reason I might actually believe he broke his hand falling out of the tour bus… well no, not really. I’m sure there was alcohol involved, but I wouldn’t be so sure it involved a fight, as we might assume with a certain other broken hand. Sometimes it seems almost as if he’s trying too hard not to give a fuck.
But what about the music? One and a half yawns. Yes, there are some really hot moments–like the verse parts of “Gonna Make You Love Me” where Adams does his best Jack White impression. Then he kicks into his opening guitar riff from “New York, New York” and it’s all pretty much over. And what about “Answering Bell” being a direct rip-off of “The Weight” by The Band? Or maybe it’s that all folk sounds the same? Blah blah blah blah…
Not to mention that Ryan Adams is obsessed with Meg White… thanking HER in HIS liner notes. I think there are a lot of people in Detroit that’d like to kick his butt. He talks out of his ass and thinks with his dick. Also has been linked to our favorite little shoplifting music whore, Winona Ryder (but then who hasn’t?). What a winner.
Do I really hate Adams, like Rolling Stone post-fawning? I’m not sure. I never fawned, just complained. I just took out all this time to write about him… I mean why bother?
There were just some things that needed to be said.