When it comes to negative feedback, whether it be bad reviews or audience heckling, Ryan has never been one to suffer in silence. That tendency was already well-established in 1997 when Ryan made his major-label debut with Whiskeytown’s Strangers Almanac, at which point he already had a reputation for being notoriously thin-skinned. More than once, I asked Ryan why criticism got to him so much.
“We pay some attention to critics, try not to take it too much,” Ryan told me in the 1997 Strangers-era interview recounted in Chapter seven of “Losering.” “But when somebody has these preconceptions, hey, I can read and I’ve got a real big mouth and a microphone.”
Our lore is the richer for it, especially since microphones aren’t the only answer-back tools Ryan has utilized over the years. Chapter 13 details a number of Ryan’s tirades at critics who done him wrong, and probably the most infamous (or at least widely heard) was the voicemail he left for Chicago rock critic Jim DeRogatis after an unfavorable 2003 concert review. That recording has gone out far and wide over the years. And if you’ve never heard it, you can listen to it right here.