Ryan Adams: Losering

Cover by Lindsay Starr, lindsaystarr.com

“Ryan Adams: Losering, A Story of Whiskeytown”  is a critical biography written by David Menconi — a journalist, critic and longtime fan. It’s complicated. Seriously. If you just got here and want to know more of the back-story on how this book came to be, the very beginning is a very good place to start. That would be here, reading from the bottom up.

“Losering” is part of the American Music Series (of which I am co-editor), published by University of Texas Press. It’s available at better bookstores everywhere and also on amazon.com, bookshop, bn.com and iTunes. It can also be found in the Library of CongressWake County Public Library, Berklee’s Stan Getz Library,  Stanford University Library, Austin Public Library and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Library & Archives.


Hoffer2013 Hoffer Award winner — Honorable Mention/Culture

Ryan Adams: Losering, a Story of Whiskeytown, David Menconi, University of Texas Press – A talented music critic with a seventeen-year obsession keeps his journalistic perspective with this semi-authorized biography of Ryan Adams, leader of Whiskeytown, a legendary alternative country-rock band. A high school drop-out from Jacksonville, North Carolina, the prickly Adams wrote brilliant songs by the bushel, and gave alcohol-and-drug-fueled concerts that veered between “legendary train wrecks” and mesmerizing magic. Melodic, descriptive phrases share an insider’s view of the 1990s music scene where a healthy economic climate allowed unconventional bands to flourish. Interviews and anecdotes form a lucid homage to Adams, the Keith Richards of alternative country who could “open up a hole in the universe with just his guitar and his voice.”

The US Review of Books



…offers a deeper understanding of how [Ryan Adams] evolved into the artist he’s become.
M Music & Musicians

…packed with tales of magical performances and utterly desperate train wrecks.
Publishers Weekly review

…part biography, part appreciation, and part scholarly analysis…a wildly entertaining read and a comprehensive rendering of one of Adams’ most fruitful periods.
PopMatters’ Best Music Books of 2012

A ramble though a long-vanished Raleigh in search of redemption.
— Creative Loafing

Often funny, sad and poignant at the same time.
The Independent

The finest rock book of the year…addictive as potato chips.
On That Note

The music book of 2012.
Lincoln Journal Star

…the definitive book.

…part oral history, part Menconi memoir, part Adams biography, and for all the bridges Ryan burned in Raleigh, all love story, in its own way, complete with its own breakup and happy / sad ending…Ryan Adams and Whiskeytown were instrumental in shaping the scene here as we know it, and Menconi takes that, respects it, and writes it as a wonderful story that isn’t happy, but is truthful, and fascinating.
Brand New Kind of Photography

…an essential read for Adams’s fans and alt.country fans in general, but also a fascinating account of the birth of a star.
Rock’n’Reel magazine

Engine 145

#7, Engine 145’s Best Music Books of 2012

Uprooted Music Revue’s 15 Favorite Books of 2012

…a fuzzy dreamlike glow around the whole thing.

Shawn Coyne, The Story Grid

…an opportunity to go back and burrow into that mid-’90s period of twang, crunch and spilt-beer beauty known as Whiskeytown.

Once a fan, always a fan.

…a love letter to Adams’ long-suffering fanbase.
Blurt magazine

…fascinating, often shocking and never boring.

…the anarchy surrounding Whiskeytown is well-told.
Austin Chronicle

This was a magic time for music, and  Ryan Adams was a key reason why.
Dan After Dark

A fantastic read for fans of Raleigh and great music journalism.
NCSU Libraries News, Best Books 2017

Sleeping Hedgehog review

JeremyEtc.com review

Dagger Zine review

NewRaleigh.com review

PopStache review

goodreads reviews

The Music Junkyard review

The Rooster’s Wife

The Unofficial Scorer



David Menconi writes that he subtitled his book “A Story of Ryan Adams and Whiskeytown” — and not “The Story” — because there are so many wildly conflicting perspectives on the gifted but mercurial rocker. He’s being modest: This is THE story you’ll want to read. A reporter in the town that gave Adams his launching pad, Menconi was there from the beginning and tells the tale like no other music journalist could. Painstakingly teasing the facts from the mythology, Menconi presents a compelling portrait of a talented and troubled artist that swaggers like the brassiest honky-tonk, meanders like jaunting jam rock and prods like the most provocative punk. And those are only three of the many musical faces of this son of Jacksonville, North Carolina.
Mark Kemp, author, “Dixie Lullaby”

A tightly written and bold look at one of music’s most brilliant and enigmatic artists, Ryan Adams. But this fine book transcends that, providing a first-hand account of the birth of modern Americana music and showing us what a profound effect music has on all of our lives. “Losering” is the best in music journalism, and Menconi is surely one of our best music writers.
Silas House, author, “Eli the Good”

The story of Ryan Adams’ scramble from poor country kid to cliched rock stardom had me captivated from the first barroom brawl. I had to stay up reading deep into the night until I’d finished. Like any great pop song, “Losering” proves itself dangerously addictive.
Alina Simone, author, “You Must Go and Win”

A fascinating account of the life and work of the brilliant but mercurial Adams. But it’s more than that. We also get boots-on-the-ground coverage of the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill music scene — one of America’s most fertile. And we get a revealing peek at the codependency between rock journalist and rock star.
Joe Oestreich, author, “Hitless Wonder”



Strangers Almanac reading/interview on Rural Ledge-ucation

WUNC-FM “The State of Things” interview

UT Press podcast interview

NBC17 interview

CKUW-FM “TwangTrust” interview

Twisted South interview

Kinston Free Press podcast (begins at 41:15)



Columbia Daily Tribune

Music Tomes interview, Part 1
Music Tomes interview, Part 2

Shuffle magazine

Music I Like That Most People Don’t Know But Should, Part 1
Music I Like That Most People Don’t Know But Should, Part 2

The Misread City interview (also on CultureCrash)

Austin American Statesman interview

Uprooted Music Revue interview (also on No Depression)

RiffRaff interview

Daily Tar Heel interview



largehearted boy playlist

“My Book, The Movie” (also at Campaign for the American Reader)

“Page 99 Test” (also at Campaign for the American Reader)

Essay: Do-it-yourself book PR (also at Goodreads)

Excerpt: American Songwriter magazine

Excerpt: Raleigh News & Observer

Greetings From Evanston, Ill. — Every biography is a strangers almanac and The time Ryan Adams wrote a cover letter to a newspaper 

Music Tomes on author blogs: Expanding a Book’s Reach

Nominees, Ragan Old North State Award for Non-Fiction

Must-read rock bios on indie88.com



alt-country.org thread

Ryan Adams Archive thread

AltCountryTab thread

To Be Young thread

Three Dimes Down thread

Led Zeppelin forum thread

JayFarrar.net thread

Pink Fish Media thread


6 thoughts on “Ryan Adams: Losering

  1. Pingback: Talking with NBC17 about Ryan, Whiskeytown and “Losering” « LoseringBook

  2. Pingback: Blurb love and the writer’s life, with Silas House « LoseringBook

  3. OK, I’m hooked. Will need to return.

  4. Pingback: Kissa me baby | Losering Books

  5. Pingback: Dollars, cents and sense of book-publishing | Piedmont Laureate

  6. Pingback: Dollars, cents and sense of book-publishing | Losering Books

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