Musicians spend endless amounts of time sucking up to radio for one simple reason: It’s impossible to get to the toppermost of the poppermost without a ton of airplay. That’s as true today as it was in the spring of 1998, when Whiskeytown was on the road still pushing its 1997 album Strangers Almanac even though Ryan Adams was pretty much over that record and tired of playing its songs by then (more about that is in chapter 10 of “Losering”).
But at the record company’s behest, Whiskeytown rolled into Seattle on Feb. 13 of that year and went to the local “Adult Album Alternative” station “The Mountain,” 103.7-FM, to play its Mountain Music Lounge show. Seventeen-plus years later, Whiskeytown road manager Thomas O’Keefe calls the band’s appearance there “ill-fated,” but it was more like an epic catastrophe thanks to various misbehaviors by Ryan. Between Ryan refusing to answer questions and flipping off the host, let’s just say it probably didn’t result in many extra spins of Strangers Almanac songs on that station.
There was, however, a belated semi-happy ending. More than nine years later, in July 2007, Ryan went back to that station to play “I’m Sorry Marty” — a contrite yet funny song of apology he’d written for Marty Riemer, the deejay Ryan antagonized at that 1998 event. Somehow I’ve never heard this one until now. But take a listen below; I think of it as the flipside of Ryan’s Jim DeRogatis phone call from a few years earlier.
I also have to say that I find the line “not just an asshole but a whole ass” particularly poetic.