For the past dozen years, the most significant (to me, anyway) solo album in Ryan Adams’ catalog has proudly carried the imprint of independent label Bloodshot Records. That’s Heartbreaker, which the Chicago-based label released in September 2000 while Whiskeytown was still in limbo. Chapter 12 of “Losering” recounts the exceedingly modest expectations everyone had for Heartbreaker when it came out; Ryan himself said he was hoping it might sell 20,000 copies, declaring that would be an “amazing” figure to reach. Instead, Heartbreaker has sold more than 20 times that amount — 309,464 copies in America the last time I had the opportunity to look up Soundscan figures in January 2012, plus another 100,000-plus overseas — which makes it Bloodshot’s top seller by multiples, as well as Ryan’s second-best-selling album. I still think it will someday pass Gold to become Ryan’s top-seller.
But if Heartbreaker ever does accomplish that feat, it will do so with a different name on the label. Come midnight, when February turns into March, Heartbreaker will actually go out of print, although probably not for long. Bloodshot released Heartbreaker under a license, which expired last September; and after the “sell-off period” for selling warehoused copies expires at midnight, the album will be unavailable until Ryan reissues it. No word yet on when or where that might be, but I’d expect Ryan’s own Pax Am Records to put it out before too much time goes by. In the meantime, Bloodshot has CD copies available for the cheap, cheap price of $7.50 (vinyl is already sold out).
“I hate to see it go,” Bloodshot co-founder Nan Warshaw says of Heartbreaker. “But it’s a piece of our history, and it always will be.”
ADDENDUM (6/7/13): A dissenting view of Heartbreaker.