By now, everybody who takes a chance on one of Ryan Adams’ limited-edition seven-inch singles should know that they’re pretty much of a crapshoot. The series has offered up the occasional gem like last fall’s heartbreaking “Jacksonville,” as well as odious turkeys like the thoroughly useless “Vampires.” But his latest effort, “Burn in the Night,” lands closer to the good end of that gem-to-turkey spectrum.
The opening title track is a chiming rocker with a rough edge; it would have perked up last year’s Ryan Adams album a good bit had he found a way to make it fit. And the closing “Look in the Mirror,” an outtake from Ryan’s Husker Du tribute EP 1984, is by far the best third cut of this seven-inch series — it feels like an actual song rather than a self-indulgent goof.
But of course, this wouldn’t be Ryan if it didn’t have at least one missed opportunity, and that would be the middle track. “Cop City” starts out more than promisingly enough with an arrangement reminiscent of The Who, pairing a Pete Townshend-style clarion-call guitar riff with nicely overplayed drums. But that good first impression starts to fade once you pay attention to the words Ryan is singing, and the realization sets in that they’re probably something he came up with on the spot while under the influence of a great deal of pot:
Eddie & the Cruisers
But they were from Mars
And they all survived on chocolate bars…
Oh, Ryan…Anyway, take a listen here, and peep his online description (which I’m including below just in case it disappears from his website, as tends to happen). Regarding the part that I’ve boldfaced, I’d like to think it means that “Burn in the Night” was written about Amy Lombardi; and if that’s the case, it’s so cool that he’s still writing the occasional song about his long-ago “New York, New York” muse all these years later. See chapter eight of “Losering” for more about that.
Los Angeles… ugh…WHAT ARE YOU?!? That is how this single feels to me.
Three tracks from the hot summer nights — greenish smoke billowing out from the upstairs office door of the PaxAm office, just next to the live room.
Burn In The Night is me ruminating on an old NYC love lost- and how funny it is to get older and sort of put some of that behind you- but never really getting as far behind you as you’d like. I always felt like that song was really special but it never fit anywhere. Thank goodness we make these singles.
Marshall on the drums, me on the guitar and everything else.
COP CITY- another song about the last weekend of every month in LA when all the police are out giving tickets and ALL I WANNA DO IS GET TO MY PINBALL SPOT. This was one of the jams me and Mike V made on the never-to be-released ALIEN USA album experiment with Jeremy Stacey on drums and us going for the “big sound.” We found it later but here and there a few really cool tracks stood out. This one especially feels so good. Its traffic and being at the end of your rope.
LOOK IN THE MIRROR is me on everything and a song that I recorded too late to go on the 1984 record. Hey but NOT TO WORRY… soon you’ll have 1985 and 1986…. and who knows what else.
From the early summer tour 2015
The Windsor Hotel