Cool thing about publishing a book is, after you set it loose, you never know how far copies of it will eventually travel. And I expect that Chandigarh in Northern India is about as far away from me as a copy of “Losering” has ever turned up. Here is a picture that Lise Michaela Lodahl was kind enough to post on the Ryan Adams Superfans Facebook page, and it’s pretty amazing to imagine someone on another continent reading a book I wrote — more than 12,000 miles away from Raleigh, literally half a world away. Nice.
This has been floating around for a while, but I only recently encountered it on one of the Ryan Adams Facebook pages — “Folklore,” a long lost and quite lovely song that Ryan recorded in the wee small hours one night at the home of a fan following a late-1990s Whiskeytown show in Virginia. The video includes commentary on how this recording came to be. Though never officially released, “Folklore” was a song Ryan also played live some back then, and it still blows my mind how easily he could just burp out stuff this good during the Whiskeytown era. A pity this one never made it onto a record.
Back in March, my Facebook friend Tony Sicilia (a public-school teacher in the greater Raleigh vicinity) made a plaintive Twitter plea for Ryan Adams to end his apparent North Carolina boycott and come back to his native state — promising the enticement of “the best homemade Italian dinner you’ve ever had,” cooked by his mom. And even though it was charming and heartfelt, it didn’t do the trick. Ryan’s last round of U.S. touring took him to every adjoining state without him ever setting foot on a stage in North Carolina.
But Tony, God bless him, has not given up. Below is afollowup offer he made to Ryan, again by Twitter, promising that the dinner invitation still stands even if Ryan doesn’t play here; and darned if @TheRyanAdams didn’t favorite it. We’re pulling for you, Tony!
One 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.
Madonna and Mary J. Blige aren’t all that’s coming from the American Music Series in 2016. Also now officially in the pipeline is a book on T Bone Burnett, the mystic auteur behind “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” and the Robert Plant/Alison Krauss collaboration Raising Sand, among many other Americana signposts. Scheduled for fall 2016 on University of Texas Press and tentatively titled “The True True Identity,” it’s written by the Chicago-based critic Lloyd Sachs. Upon receiving word this week that he had attained final approval (a process that can indeed be something of an ordeal), Lloyd marked the occasion as one does nowadays — on Facebook, with the post below. Congratulations, Mr. Sachs.
I was glad to see this recent Facebook post by writer Henry Carrigan from Nashville, and know that “Comin’ Right at Ya” is providing entertaining diversions in unlikely places. And I’d also like to note, by the way, that the book is available in Germany; and for those interested, the “How a Jewish Yankee Hippie…” subtitle roughly translates as:
Wie ein jüdischer Yankee Hippie Ging Land Oder Die Oft Empörend Geschichte von Asleep at the Wheel
Yesterday, Ryan Adams’ long-ago bandmate Skillet Gilmore posted on Facebook that he and Caitlin Cary were “assuming that Taylor Swift is holed up right now learning all of Faithless Street” — and it’s definitely hilarious to imagine Swift returning Ryan’s 1989 favor by recording Whiskeytown’s ragged-but-right 1996 alt-country classic as immaculate pop. But this morning, Skillet took it to the next level by posting the picture below on Instagram, with shout-outs to @misterryanadams and @taylorswift.
Well, I’ve gotta say, being allowed to join the ranks of the Ryan Adams Cool Kids Facebook group has turned out to be the social-media highlight of this summer. Not that I needed another Facebook-centered time-waster in my life, of course. But hanging out at RACK has been a lot of fun, and here’s a thing over there: People Holding Ryan Adams Albums,goofy Photoshopped pictures of everyone from Britney Spears to Christian “American Psycho” Bale holding Ryan’s record covers. They’ve compiled the results on a non-Facebook website billed as “A Subdivision of RACK, Inc.” (and I had no idea it was this corporate). Anyway, take a look and play along.
So I just joined a rather unusual Facebook group by the name of Ryan Adams Cool Kids. It’s a private group and actually persuading the gatekeepers to let me join was a process, as they say. I had to send three requests and do a bit of whining through back-door channels before they finally relented and let me in, which happened this afternoon.
So now that I’m in there, I’ve discovered that the banter is (a) not really that much about Ryan Adams and (b) a bit on the sharp side, though mostly (I think) in fun. But one of the RACK denizens was kind enough to concoct and post a great little welcome, this Photoshopped picture depicting the late great Marilyn Monroe perusing a copy of “Losering.” If only!
As a longtime Monroe devotee, I am beyond honored. Still not cool enough for the room, of course, but I think I’m gonna be happy to lurk there.
ADDENDUM (7/19/15) — Below, from another RACK thread…