Man oh man, Ryan Adams is on a pretty great hot streak as a writer lately — not of songs, but of prose. Following the excellent summary he composed to accompany last month’s “Blue Light” seven-inch, he announced today the impending release of another Pax Am single called “I Do Not Feel Like Being Good” with yet another cool essay in which he explains his songwriting method. A sample:
Writing songs for me means a few hours of reading. I don’t actually touch the guitar. It sits there with the capo on 5 or 3 or 4th fret – I pre-decide that usually knowing sort of what kind of information is in my body and also what kind of songs come out of those fret positions for me- for instance Come Pick Me Up is 3 and Let It Ride is 5… LaCienega Just Smiled is 4 right there between confessional and “story based on something from my life”… So I know ahead of time the feeling in me. My songbook ( currently there is one half-full- it will be added to a stack of I don’t even know how many now ) will be opened to a new page or a “Song-Pull” list… that list is a list of one liners, 5 word descriptions of things or even names of people or moments I want to add as ingredients in my future songs – like a magical potion I bring the elements of my life together and try and balance the bitter root and the sweet scents of lilac fuming off the flower staffs and make something bigger and loft powerful than the past or future…
Check out the rest of it here.
ADDENDUM (4/27/15): And here’s the music.
I’ve not yet heard Ryan Adams’ next Pax Am Records seven-inch, “Blue Light,” which has a March 31 release date, so there’s no telling about its quality just yet. Some of Ryan’s indie singles have been great, some have sucked out loud. But at the very least, he sure has dropped some first-rate spiel about this one, rough yet vivid, composed in a tone of deadpan whimsy similar to what you see in the writings of the great singer/songwriter/producer Joe Henry:
This session is a bit of that up there but also some songs that were and still are part of this tear — this, like, “I am living in the 80’s but not in a collective way” tear I am on, musically maybe… like in a way where musically and emotionally I let myself go into some soundspace…an imagined reality of not trying to be good at anything with an 80’s feel… but just a free place… a place to be loose in a way where you aren’t trying to change the world. I don’t want to change the world. I just want to tell you a story. Usually about how I feel…
Plenty more where that came from right here, and you can hear one of the songs below. According to the tagline, Ryan (calling himself “Beast-mode”) wrote this four days ago “From the Emerald Isle.”
So even if he won’t play in North Carolina anymore, I guess he’ll still visit and even write here in The Old North State on occasion.
UPDATE/CORRECTION: Well, duh — Van Alston points out that “Emerald Isle” is most likely Ireland; which is what I get for being too danged North Carolina-centric.