Posts Tagged With: Bruce Springsteen

“Madonnaland” — Rolling Stone digs it, too

“Madonnaland: And Other Detours Into Fame and Fandom,” the wonderfully quirky Madonna quasi-biography penned by the great Alina Simone, is shaping up as one of the most acclaimed books we’ve published with the American Music Series. On the heels of year-end honors from National Public Radio, “Madonnaland” has earned a spot in Rolling Stone’s “10 Best Music Books of 2016” list — alongside Bruce Springsteen’s memoir “Born to Run,” Bob Mehr’s Replacements tome “Trouble Boys” and other notable titles. Jason Diamond calls “Madonnaland” a “fuller, weirder and more interesting overview of Madonna than we may have thought possible.” Check the full entry here.

MadonnalandRS.jpg

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Coming in November: New Ryan Adams LP

DRANovLPRyan Adams will release his still-untitled next album on Nov. 4, and from the sound of things this seems to be the project he was working on back in February when he claimed to have recorded more than 80 songs. Studio svengali Don Was is back behind the board in what Ryan calls his “Gandalf” mode. And in Entertainment Weekly’s announcement interview about it, Ryan goes into excitable-boy mode and mentions the following sonic reference points:

Bruce Springsteen, Darkness on the Edge of Town
The Smiths, Meat Is Murder
Bruce Hornsby
AC/DC, Fly on the Wall
Bachman-Turner Overdrive
Electric Light Orchestra

I have no idea what a combination of all that might sound like, but I guess we’ll find out! Below is a live version of a new song Ryan debuted at Red Rocks recently, “Do You Still Love Me.” If the rest of the record is anything like this, well, I would not call that a good omen.

ADDENDUM (10/11/2016): Timeline for this album, titled Prisoner.

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Bruce Springsteen rocks the forest

ForestFBThe latest news in my bookish world is a somewhat unusual project: a coffee-table book about a football stadium. I’m one of several contributors to Lee Pace’s “Football in a Forest: The Life and Times of Kenan Memorial Stadium,” a lavishly illustrated history of the University of North Carolina’s sports stadium in Chapel Hill. Kenan has also been the site of a few concerts over the years, most notably a September 2003 Bruce Springsteen show that I attended.

The show was great, of course, and I reviewed it for the News & Observer. But the most memorable part actually happened long before showtime, when I got to accompany a well-connected friend on a backstage visit. That’s where we encountered the late great Terry Magovern, a former Navy Seal who worked for many years as Springsteen’s personal assistant. Magovern was also in charge of gathering “local-color research,” which was how my friend and I found ourselves being grilled about North Carolina trivia “in case Bruce wants to say something onstage.” Turned out he did!

That wound up being the basis of my contribution to this book, an essay titled “A Visit From The Boss,” which can be found on pages 130-133 (accompanied by a spectacular onstage concert photo shot by Bernard Harris from the Durham Herald-Sun). Priced at $39.95, “Football in a Forest” is available at various brick-and-mortar stores around the Triangle including Chapel Hill’s Flyleaf Books, where Pace will do a reading-and-discussion event on Sept. 14; and Johnny T-Shirt, where Pace will be on Sept. 16. You can also order the book online here.

ADDENDUM (9/20/2016): Author interview about this book in the News & Observer.

BossKenan

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Metrics, schmetrics: Quality, not quantity

LoserMeasureOne of this season’s regular happenings is a perennially angst-inducing rite of autumn, the annual sales update from the University of Texas Press accounting department. I recently received the latest recap, a bottom-line exercise that serves as a yearly reminder of just what a small (nay, tiny) fish I am in this world even though UTP’s number-crunchers are far too polite to put it that way.

Anyway, “Ryan Adams: Losering, A Story of Whiskeytown” was published in the fall of 2012, which means I’ve been getting these statements for a couple of years now. And while the book has certainly gotten some very nice attention and even sold respectably, for a university-press title, “Losering” hasn’t exactly set the best-seller lists on fire. If current sales trends continue, it will still take another two years or so for the book to “earn out” — generate enough sales income to recoup the (quite modest) advance UT Press paid me to write it, at which point I’ll start getting back-end royalties.

The bottom line is, it ain’t never gonna make me rich, although the day may come when it puts a little extra change in my pocket every year. And that’s fine. As I always tell people, don’t write books for money because you will most assuredly be disappointed.

As for good reasons to write books, we do it in hopes of getting responses like the one below. It’s from a fellow Whiskeytown enthusiast named Mark Cermak, who started a thread on the Ryan Adams Archive Facebook page last week to ask whether or not other people had read “Losering” and found it worthwhile. After the usual banter, Mark announced he was going to check it out — and came back with this a couple of days later. It pretty much made my day.

So yeah, it’s certainly easy to obsess way too much about the bigger audience I never got to with this book. But to see it resonate so strongly for the people who care the most, that’s the best validation one could ask for.

Thank you, Mark, and thank you, world.

RAArev

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What’s on YOUR bookshelf?

ReadingRmIn one way or another, I’m constantly asking musicians and artists about their artistic influences when I’m doing interviews — but it’s unusual for someone to ask that of me. One of the few people to do so is Henry Carrigan, book columnist for No Depression, who asked me a few questions related to my own back pages in the course of putting together a piece about “Comin’ Right at Ya.”

Henry was kind enough to include my responses in a “Reading Room” column headlined “What Are You Reading?,” alongside a pretty august set of my fellow scribes: Tamara Saviano, who is currently working on a Guy Clark biography that I’m quite certain will be amazing; my American Music Series colleague David Cantwell; Jewly Hight, another writer I hope to coax into the AMS at some point; Geoffrey Himes, author of a very fine tome about Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A.; and Alan Paul, who published an acclaimed Allman Brothers biography last year.

Check that here. Spoiler alert: My part contains what is probably the only paragraph you’ll ever read that references both “North Dallas Forty” and “The Lord of the Rings.” And of course, I also had to get in another plug for “Don’t Suck, Don’t Die,” too.

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First impressions: Ryan Adams’ “1989”

Today is release day for DRA 1989, Ryan Adams’ version of all 13 songs from queen-of-the-universe Taylor Swift’s massively popular 2014 album of the same name. Ryan himself is talking about it while the financial press is tallying how much money will change hands. And since we live in an on-demand world where timeliness rules above all else, a lot of my fellow critics are busily cranking out all their hot takes based on 24 hours or less of binge listening. Any record takes time to properly digest, of course, but that seems especially true for a project like this one. Eventually, I hope to have something more thoughtful to say about it. But for now, here are some initial impressions based on as many listens as I’ve been able to manage since getting the tracks yesterday afternoon.

*It’s been both hilarious and disturbing to read all the weird speculation about Ryan’s motives, including this gem of a Facebook post from his long-ago Whiskeytown bandmate Phil Wandscher:

Phils1989take

Oh, Phil…

Only Ryan can say for sure why he chose to do this, of course, but I don’t buy it as either high-tech flirting or crass commercial ploy. If Ryan were truly interested in appealing to Taylor Swift’s massive fan base, taking all the gloss off her pop to reveal its moody essence is a strange strategy because it will just confuse the average T.Swift fan. For example:

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 11.57.19 AM

My take on this whole thing is it’s just Ryan getting excited about a weird idea and running with it, because he can. But really, any of Ryan’s fans who think DRA 1989 is somehow out of character just haven’t been paying attention because it perfectly fits his career. He’s always played covers of pop songs you’d think would be beneath him, and this also isn’t the first time he’s recorded someone else’s album that he admired (see: his version of The Strokes Is This It?). And if you go back a quarter-century, teenage Ryan was already recording cassettes of himself and labeling them (c) PAX AMERICANA. Fast forward to the present day and the only difference is he’s got a real studio and access to famous folks now. Oh, and he’s shortened his label name to PAX AM.

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 10.27.58 AM*To my ears, this really does play like a bookend to last year’s Ryan Adams, a downcast and glum album that took the subsequent announcement of Ryan’s divorce from Mandy Moore to fully resonate. Even if I’m still not crazy about Ryan Adams, I do feel like it makes more sense emotionally than it did a year ago. Add in marriage meltdown and depression, and it’s easy to see how 1989 songs about disappointment (“Blank Space,” “All You Had to Do Was Stay”), longing (“I Wish You Would,” “How You Get the Girl”), bad blood (“Bad Blood”) and rising above (“Shake It Off”) might  speak to Ryan more directly than you’d think. He’s taken 1989 and turned it into his own private Blood on the Tracks, sort of.

*Ryan Adams and 1989 are also of a piece sonically, which is not an entirely positive thing. After hearing Live at Carnegie Hall, I concluded that my biggest problem with Ryan Adams was the ’80s production because those same songs were far more effective as unadorned solo acoustic performances. I’m having similar feelings about 1989, wishing he’d stripped it down even further because so far my favorite songs are its least-adorned. Particularly revelatory is the acoustic take on “Blank Space,” which still packs an earworm of a hook — but with the shrill tones of the original toned down, the repetition of the chorus seems less manic than obsessive.

*I really wish Ryan had dialed down the reverb on his voice, which makes him sound murky and distant when it seems like immediacy is what’s called for. I’m imagining these songs with Ryan’s voice unadorned and right upfront, a la “Jacksonville Skyline” or “Lucky Now,” and this version with his voice buried in an echo-filled chasm feels like a missed opportunity.

*I like the “I’m on Fire” version of “Shake It Off.” I also kinda like the ocean and bird songs that begin and end the album, which is reminiscent of The Who’s Quadrophenia (hmm…!) and adds to my curiosity about the cover art.

Overall, I’m liking it so far. More soon, I hope…

ADDENDA (9/22-23/2015): Somehow, there really are people out there who thought it was Bryan Adams covering Taylor Swift (oy); Here’s a piece on the legal logistics of 1989, plus weigh-ins from The New YorkerThe Atlantic, Esquire and U.K. Mirror — plus the dumbest headline about DRA 1989 anywhere. Here’s more dumbassery, and Saving Country Music does not seem to care for it, either. Same for a lot of folks on Twitter, plus this guy. Here’s an interesting take. And you had to know this was coming, “better Taylor Swift covers.” You could almost call it a backlash. But here are kinder words from absolutepunk.net.

MORE (9/24-26/2015): People are already talking about a hypothetical 1989 Grammy showdown (UPDATE, 12/7: which won’t happen). Also, “meh” reviews in Rolling Stone and especially Pitchfork. The latter leads to a pointed question. And here’s someone calling it “a worthwhile disappointment.” But there are apparently “liturgical lessons” to be had from it.

More (Oct.-Nov. ’15): A reach, but an interesting one. Also, Ryan interviews Taylor. In this interview, he compares her to Shakespeare. A good Drowned in Sound review. But The Guardian doesn’t much care for it.

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Poor Ryan…

MandyRyanXThere will be a lot more said about this — there’s already plenty flying around out there — but all that needs saying from the outside is it’s too bad and we’re sorry to hear it.

(UPDATE, 12/9/2015: Almost a year later, things are turning ugly over money.)

Meanwhile, Ryan’s Twitter feed has been rather illuminating. Right around the time that news of the Ryan-Mandy split was breaking Friday night, Ryan tweeted a link to the Grateful Dead’s “Bird Song.” He didn’t add any sort of comment, so maybe it was just coincidence. But coming on the heels of recent tweets with “Tunnel of Love” and “I Am the Cosmos”… I don’t think so:

All I know is something like a bird within her sang,
All I know she sang a little while and then flew on,
Tell me all that you know, I’ll show you snow and rain.
If you hear that same sweet song again, will you know why?
Anyone who sings a tune so sweet is passin’ by,
Laugh in the sunshine, sing, cry in the dark, fly through the night.
Don’t cry now, don’t you cry, don’t you cry anymore.
Sleep in the stars, don’t you cry, dry your eyes on the wind.
All I know is something like a bird within her sang,
All I know she sang a little while and then flew off,
Tell me all that you know, I’ll show you snow and rain.
UPDATE (6/6/2018): Mandy Moore on her exes, including Ryan:

Moore then touched on her first marriage to musician Ryan Adams, which ended in a “devastating” divorce.

“It didn’t sour my idea of romance or marriage or monogamy. I just chose the wrong person,” she said. When Stern said she should have done a Braff with Adams and just done “two years in and out,” Moore joked, “Maybe less!”

Though she denied Adams cheated on her, she explained, “We’re just different, we were not meant to be. It was a very lonely life. Someone who’s obsessed with themselves and obsessed with their work and wasn’t able to be a partner or husband. The anger subsided for me now. I have so much distance from it now, I have a different perspective.”

She added that new fiance Taylor Goldsmith “couldn’t be more diametrically opposite” of her ex. “Life is good, I feel very lucky,” she added. Moore also said she’s “ready” for kids, but will have to time it out with her “This Is Us” shooting schedule. “I jump around in time, so it would be weird playing an older lady with a pregnant belly,” she joked.

 

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Reckoning with Ryan Adams’ new album

It’s complicated
I just don’t love you anymore…

— Ryan Adams, “Am I Safe” (2014)


One thing that writing “Losering” did for me was to underscore the futility of music journalism and criticism, especially album reviews. The book forced me to reconsider release-date-vintage things I’d thought and written about everything from the Ryan Adams/Whiskeytown discography in the harsh light of the present, a process that induced a cringe or two. While I think I was more or less right about most of the records, there were definitely some I had significantly underrated at first (especially Love Is Hell) or thought too much of (Rock N’ Roll). And as I was finishing up the book in the fall of 2011, Ashes and Fire came out and I overrated that one, too. I should not have been surprised; just because I was writing it in a book rather than a newspaper review, that didn’t make my snap judgment any more long-lasting.

Something else “Losering” emphasized was the futility of fandom: the fact that if you follow anybody long enough, they will surely disappoint you. Whether I should feel that way or not, I am disappointed in Ryan. I wish I didn’t feel that way because I hate being That Guy — the dock worker in Liverpool who liked The Beatles during their Cavern Club days but thought they sold out when they went on “Ed Sullivan.” Or the guy in Greenwich Village who thought Bob Dylan should have stuck with old folk songs. Or the dude in Asbury Park who thought Bruce Springsteen’s calling was to stay a bar-band journeyman. So maybe giving up what he had in order to get to where he is now was the right call for Ryan; perhaps his upcoming self-titled album will one day be mentioned in the same breath as Rubber Soul or Blonde on Blonde or Darkness on the Edge of Town.

But…I don’t think so.

RyanAdamsCoverSo anyway, yes, Ryan Adams (Pax Am/Blue Note Records) will be released next week; in the meantime, you can listen to a stream of it here, here, here, or here. A few reviews are starting to appear, because right around or even before release date is when outlets tend to be interested in running them. Never mind that the pre-release period, when a given artist does a bunch of interviews (usually saying some variation on the same thing in each one), tends to be the least-interesting part of a record’s life cycle. It’s just how the game goes.

At least Ryan has been his usual swaggering, quotable self in his latest round of interviews, covering all his by-now-obligatory recurrent bullet points. Drug use, check; disavowing outlandish behavior he has supposedly outgrown, check; references to his prolific nature by way of another high-profile addition to his stash of unreleased music, check; tantalizing suggestion that he might actually release one of his “lost” golden oldies, check; and through it all, Ryan’s insistence that he always just goes with the flow — check.

As for the record itself, whatever I think about it at this point, chances are good I’ll think something completely different a year from now. But you know me, I can never shut the hell up even when I know I should. So here are a few initial impressions based on several days of listening to Ryan Adams:

(1) This might be damning with faint praise, but at least Ryan Adams is better than I expected it to be based on the lead single “Gimme Something Good” — a song that I still find pretty ho-hum after a decent amount of listens over the past few months.

(2) Tom Petty’s shadow hangs heavily over this album, which is not an inherently bad thing because Tom Petty is really good. Multiple songs (most notably “Trouble” and “Stay With Me”) have wailing guitar leads echoing Petty’s 1980 signature hit “Refugee,” and the overall vibe and dynamics are very similar to Damn the Torpedoes-era Tom Petty. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that Ryan Adams is a more engaging Petty album than Petty’s own current effort Hypnotic Eye. (ADDENDUM, 12/11/14: Stereogum agrees.)

(3) On the other hand, it pains me to say this, but other songs on Ryan Adams seem reminiscent of (God help me) Bryan Adams, especially “Feels Like Fire.” Now if you’re going to evoke Bryan Adams, “Run To You” would definitely be the right song for it. But still…Bryan Adams? Et tu, Ryan?

Elsewhere, “My Wrecking Ball” sounds like Whiskeytown’s “Avenues” as rewritten by Springsteen, while “I Just Might” sounds like a Springsteen demo. And speaking of popular rock-star dudes of a certain age evoked by this album, let’s see what Ryan’s old Whiskeytown bandmate Phil Wandscher thinks:

PhilRA

(4) It took me a while, but ultimately I decided that my main objection to Ashes and Fire was that it was a bit too subdued and monochromatic. While I wouldn’t call Ryan Adams jumpy or anything, it does vary tempos and textures enough to make me think I might someday prefer this one. But ask me a year or so from now.

(5) It’s tempting to read autobiography into anyone’s songs, but especially with someone like Ryan whose songs have been an open book for so much of his career. Maybe he’s turned over a new leaf, in which he’s no longer writing about himself. But if these songs are anything like an accurate reflection of his current mental state, he’s in a mighty grim place nowadays — and spending a lot of time in his own head. The opening couplet on the album, from “Gimme Something Good,” pretty much sets the tone: I can’t talk/My mind is so blank/So I’m going for a walk/I’ve got nothing left to say…

“I Just Might” is no cheerier: Everything’s broken/In my mind/Ain’t no place to run/Ain’t no place to hide. And “Shadows” likens the space between the singer’s ears to prison with a “field of razor wire” that “comes a little closer.” By the end, he’s “Tired of Giving Up” and decides to “Let Go.” And so he does.

(ADDENDUM (1/24/2015): In light of the two paragraphs above, this is not surprising.)

(6) A self-titled album, especially by someone who has been around a while, implies a statement-of-purpose declaration of sorts: This is who I am. And what bothers me about Ryan Adams is just how generic it is. It’s not bad — in fact, it’s perfectly pleasant while it’s playing — but it also sounds like something that any number of other people could have made. I’d rather hear another record that Ryan and only Ryan could have made. Given his thoughts on his own catalog, I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Maybe ever.

And that, dear reader, is why I’m disappointed (though not quite as harshly so as this guy).

ADDENDUM (8/28/2015): I don’t agree with this, but it’s a good take.


EthanReckoningMeantime, I actually do have a current favorite Ryan record, sort of, an album that unobtrusively slipped into the marketplace last month. That would be The Reckoning (Three Crows Music) by Ethan Johns, a mate of Ryan’s who has produced a significant chunk of his post-Whiskeytown solo career (Heartbreaker, Gold and 29). In a role reversal, Ryan is listed as producer of The Reckoning and also credited with drums, bass, electric guitar, synthesis and “Trash can.”

There’s not much trashy about this, though. Understated and emotional, The Reckoning is a song cycle about a young immigrant on the frontier in pre-Civil War America. But never mind the storyline. This brooding little record has a lovely atmosphere that seems fragile but is powerful enough to linger and draw you in. Imagine Heartbreaker if Nick Drake had made it; take a listen here and see what you think.

I’ll keep listening to both these records, of course, and I’ll continue paying attention to Ryan for as long as he’s making music (yeah, even when he’s just goofing off). But down the road, I’m fairly certain that The Reckoning will be the record I’m still interested in hearing.

ADDENDUM (9/9/14): Ethan Johns interview.

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Ryan Adams by the numbers: Money, money, money in the bank

Ryan Adams has had a very fine career by the numbers as well as by the music, which is something that entered into the “Losering” story. While I was working on the book, I called upon a friend who worked at a music-business establishment with a subscription to Nielsen Soundscan, the service that tracks music sales in the U.S. He provided album-sales figures for Ryan’s catalog, both solo and with Whiskeytown, which was very useful data to have. While it would be unwise to put all the precise to-the-last-digit numbers for every album here (Soundscan is a subscription service, after all), Ryan’s sales figures through January 2012 can be summarized thusly:

Whiskeytown — 424,103 total sales. In terms of individual titles, the range was from just over 150,000 copies of the original 1997 version of Strangers Almanac down to just under 3,000 copies of the original 1996 independent-label version of Faithless Street. Whiskeytown’s 2001 swan song Pneumonia and the 1998 Outpost Records reissue of Faithless Street were both at over 100,000 copies.

Ryan Adams solo — 2,362,984 total sales, topped by 2001’s Gold at about 425,000 (a figure you’ll notice is greater than the entire Whiskeytown catalog combined) and followed by 2000’s Heartbreaker at about 309,000 and 2007’s Easy Tiger at just over 250,000. Of the rest, only 2003’s Rock N Roll was at more than 200,000 — although 2005’s Cold Roses was close. And bringing up the rear: 2005’s 29 at about 96,000, and 2010’s III/IV at just under 49,000.

NetWorthAdd it up, and it comes to almost 2.8 million in total U.S. album sales (which is probably at least in the neighborhood of 3 million by now, since that was 16 months ago). Nothing to rival U2, but a very healthy sum nevertheless. And while Whiskeytown didn’t make Ryan rich, his ensuing solo career certainly has. How rich? Well, according to the mavens at CelebrityNetWorth.com, Ryan’s estimated net worth is $24 million — a sum that obviously includes revenue from more than just domestic record sales, such as touring, Tim McGraw’s country-hit cover of “When The Stars Go Blue” and all the weird places “Come Pick Me Up” has appeared over the years.

(UPDATE, 3/9/16: Probably as a result of Ryan’s divorce from Mandy Moore, CelebrityNetWorth.com has halved its estimate of his net worth — from $24 million down to $12 million.)

I should note that I’m not sure how trustworthy that $24 million figure is. Not that I know anything about net worth of the rich and famous; but if I’d been asked to estimate Ryan’s fortune before seeing this, I probably would have guessed somewhere closer to the $9 million that Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy is said to be worth. And yet it’s just as possible that $24 million is a conservative estimate because CelebrityNetWorth.com’s summary of Ryan’s career is woefully out-of-date (not to mention sloppy). Here it is verbatim:

Ryan Adams is a North Carolina-born singer-songwriter, musician, and author with an estimated net worth of $24 million dollars. Originally recognized for his work with the alt-rock group, Whiskeytown, Ryan Adams left to pursue a solo career, and has since released five solo studio albums. He also performed with The Cardinals until 2009, when he decided to take a break from music. He is most widely recognized for his song, “New York, New York”.

(Note: This entry has since been updated, but the revised version at that link remains just as clue-impaired.)

Actually, “five solo studio albums” is less than half of what Ryan has released since Whiskeytown disbanded; he’s put out two albums (one a two-disc set) and appeared in a movie since that “break from music” ended; even though “New York, New York” got played on TV at Thursday night’s NFL draft (cha-ching!), I’d still say that “Come Pick Me Up,” “When the Stars Go Blue” and possibly even “Lucky Now” are all better-known by now; and while I’m at it, as descriptions go, “alt-rock group” is a pretty crappy one for Whiskeytown. At any rate, between Ryan’s bottom line and the $23 million that his singer-actress wife Mandy Moore is worth, it seems safe to say he’s not sweating next month’s electric bill.

So how does Ryan’s estimated net worth stack up with what other celebrities are worth, you ask? Well, it’s a fraction of the fortunes of old-school superstars who have been at it for 30 years or more, including Paul McCartney ($800 million), Madonna ($650 million), Dolly Parton ($450 million), Mick Jagger ($305 million), Bruce Springsteen ($200 million) and Robert Plant ($120 million).

But Ryan isn’t too far behind contemporaries like Jack White and Drake, who are both at $30 million. I was actually surprised that Adele didn’t come in higher than $45 million. The next level up is Justin Timberlake at $100 million and Usher at $110 million. Higher still is Foo Fighters main man Dave Grohl (managed, like Ryan, by John Silva) with $225 million, much of which originated from his early-1990s time in Nirvana; and hip-hop icon Jay-Z is in a class by himself with $500 million. Throw in his wife Beyonce’s $300 million, and that’s a household with some serious financial juice.

Returning to Ryan’s relatively modest end of the spectrum, I was a bit surprised at some of the artists he’s well ahead of, including Patti Smith ($15 million), Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas ($10 million) and “Call Me Maybe” hitmaker Carly Rae Jepsen (and if you’re wondering what that level of one-hit-wonder omnipresence is worth, $1 million is apparently the answer).

Narrow the field down to musicians from North Carolina, and about the only one ahead of Ryan is Ben Folds at $35 million (if you don’t count Massachusetts-born James Taylor, $60 million). Another interesting detail is just how far Ryan is ahead of all of North Carolina’s “American Idol” stars, a delegation led by Chris Daughtry at $8.5 million. Clay Aiken is next at $4 million, while Scotty McCreery, Kellie Pickler and Fantasia all come in at $1.5 million or less.

I think the lesson to be learned there is that “American Idol” is more likely to convey fame than fortune. But I still wouldn’t mind trying to scrape by on the bank account of anybody on this list.

ADDENDUM (2/5/15): Here’s more detail from a website called CelebrityGlory.com, although I wouldn’t put much stock in any of their figures. To cite just one questionable example, I’m not sure what they were smoking to have concluded that Ryan’s “1984” limited-edition seven-inch generated the suspiciously robust sum of $349,650.

SECOND ADDENDUM (12/9/15): According to divorce papers filed by Mandy Moore, Ryan earns $151,000 a month — which comes to more than $1.8 million a year, while she claims to be scraping by on “less than a quarter of that” (and is therefore asking for $37,000 a month in spousal support). Anyway, maybe he is worth $24 million…

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“Come Pick Me Up,” from across the globe to you

Here’s one from the Days Of Miracle And Wonder file — Bob Fenster and friends covering Ryan Adams’ signature Heartbreaker song “Come Pick Me Up,” and beaming in their contributions from literally all over. Two of the players here, lead vocalist Fenster and pianist Gary Maher, are in two different towns in New Jersey; the rhythm section of drummer Steven Young and bassist Kyle Richards is in Michigan (also in separate towns); guitarist/banjoist Scott Roberts is in Atlanta; Jeff Jensen on harmonica is in Washington, D.C.; and backup singer Annie Graham is in Ireland. Check it out.

This is from a Facebook group called Theme Music, where people record and post songs according to a theme declared by ringleader Matt Brown (whose old band Uncle Green I remember seeing at the Brewery way back in the early 1990s). This sort of trans-geographic collaboration goes on all the time; I just thought this one was particularly cool, and a very nice version of one of my favorites from the Ryan songbook.

While I’m at it, here is what Bob calls his magnum opus, a way-cool version of “Born To Run” with contributions from 38 people across the country.

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