It’s finally official: May 6 is the U.S. release date for the much-rumored-aboutDeluxe Edition Box Set of Ryan Adams’ 2000 solo debut Heartbreaker. The package includes lots of demos and outtakes plus a live DVD, dressed up in a fancy box that appears to involve a fair amount of photos and verbiage. Perusing the unreleased tracks on the list of song titles, I’m especially glad to see “Petal in a Rainstorm” (also known as “Oh My Sweet Valentine”) finally getting a proper release. “Locked Away” is a great rarity, too.
There’s a nice preview trailer; and you can check all the track-list details and/or pre-order the album here.
ADDENDUM (7/7/2016): Also, here is apretty extensive interview about Heartbreaker, with some interesting ruminations from Ryan regarding how he felt about Whiskeytown — plus a few remarks about David Rawlings that are bound to stir some controversy.
Mark Cimerro started things off with two early-period Whiskeytown songs, which was fitting. Mark used to be proprietor of Sonic Wave, the Raleigh studio where Whiskeytown recorded the tracks that became the 1995 “Angels Are Messengers From God” EP (and later the 1997 album Rural Free Delivery). “Too Drunk to Dream,” featuring pedal steel by Dylan Ritter from Greensboro’s The Grand Ole Uproar, was particularly fine; and for a between-song bonus, Mark recounted how Ryan had taken all the pictures off the walls at Sonic Wave during the Whiskeytown sessions because he found the studio environs “too nice.” Oh, that Ryan.
Rachel Hirsh destroying “Dancing With the Women at the Bar” — in the best way possible.
I got to host and introduce the bands, but there’s no way this show would have happened without the efforts of various members of I Was Totally Destroying It. Frontman John Booker booked the acts, helped stage-manage and performed himself; his version of “Somebody Remembers the Rose” was my first lump-in-the-throat moment of the night. IWTDI guitarist Curtis Armstead also ran sound and played (leading a nice “Come Pick Me Up” sing-along), and Rachel Hirsh’s version of “Dancing With the Women at the Bar” was a revelation that she really should record.
Also working hard was Aslan Freeman, who played his own set (props for “Turn Around,” especially) and backed up enough of the bill that he was onstage for a good chunk of the night. One person he played with was Kasey Tyndall, a young singer with a preternaturally big voice for a 19-year-old. She’s moving to Nashville soon and I expect you’ll be hearing a lot more from her before too long.
Other highlights: Ryan “Showtime” Kennemur and Taylor Adams from Dragmatic pretty much killing with “Excuse Me While I Break My Own Heart Tonight”; Keef Debonzo’s “Lucky Now,” another mist-up moment for me; Charles Marshall and Mike Ferguson from Balsa Gliders recreating “(Argument with David Rawlings concerning Morissey),” the spoken-word bit that opens Ryan’s Heartbreaker album; and the jaw-dropping voice of New Reveille’s Amy Kann. I tried shooting video of Amy singing “Easy Hearts” and the audio didn’t come out well enough to post; but check out New Reveille’s video here.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not usually onstage myself and if you were to ever hear me sing in public — which, to adopt the parlance of Taylor Swift, is so not going to happen, like, ever — you’d agree that’s a big, big net positive for the planet. But about halfway through the evening, Deep South co-owner Dave Rose called me from my side-stage MC perch to the center of the stage, to receive the plaque below. I had no idea that was coming, and I can’t tell you how touching it was. I’d already felt honored and humbled by the whole thing, and that put a nice capper on an amazing night. If you were there, you know. If you weren’t, well, you should’ve been.
When I interviewed Ryan Adams after he’d moved to Nashville in 2000, he talked a bit about the city’s “cool” musical hierarchy, which he likened it to “Sesame Street.” Ryan himself was Elmo, Steve Earle was Oscar the Grouch, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings were Bert and Ernie. And Emmylou Harris, Ryan said, was Big Bird.
Yes, I laughed. Of course, that was just Ryan’s cheeky way of being funny. Harris has always been this sort of motherly goddess figure who inspires a sense of hushed awe over everyone she meets, and that’s as true of Ryan as anyone else. At that time, Ryan was still aglow from having recorded his Heartbreaker song “O My Sweet Carolina” with her (see Chapter 12 of “Losering”), a performance that stands among the best of her many vocal cameos over the years.
More than a decade later, Emmylou still seems like the unbelievably cool older sister everyone wants to grow up to be. I’ve had the opportunity to speak to her several times for stories over the years, and you can find two of those interviews here.