A few days before Ryan Adams’ next album was to be released on its original Nov. 4 street date, word got out that it had been postponed for reasons unknown. Eventually, Feb. 17 was set as the new D-Day. But that didn’t stop bootleg versions of Prisoner from leaking out and showing up online in early December. By now, Prisoner has been heard and discussed enough that I decided to go ahead and publish my take on it, even though the album won’t be “officially” released for close to two months. My feeling is, no harm no foul — if someone still hasn’t heard it, wants to wait and keep their listening experience untainted by anyone else’s opinion, well, my review is certainly easy enough to avoid.
It’s worth noting, however, that Ryan himself strongly disapproves of this whole business of Prisoner being in premature circulation. Right around the time that Prisoner’s songs began appearing online, he published a plea via Instagram imploring people to wait and buy the thing when it actually comes out. But given the rabid loyalty of the DRA fanbase, I doubt the leaked version of Prisoner will cut into his sales too much; the people listening now will probably be the first to buy it as soon as it becomes available. And while I have some sympathy for Ryan’s viewpoint (especially since I’ve been bootlegged myself), there’s still no un-ringing that bell once something is out there.
Anyway, below is what he had to say about it.
I know you can stream this record
I don’t know to stream records, personally
It’s worth it to buy this. It’s worth it to buy a record you can hold, so you can feel it exist. So that you can have a moment with that record in a room. So it can age with you.
MOST IMPORTANTLY!!! It will help us get shit tons more lasers, keep our crew and band paid, keep us on the road
And because RECORDS MATTER!
ART MATTERS! THERE IS HOPE THERE. It’s a place for us to dream togeher.
But no matter what, no matter how you listen… Thank you. You’re the smartest, most unpretentious, sweetly brash misfit toy bunch of fans an unsophisticated spazz like me could ask for. This thing we built, YOU guys, these songs, our crew, the bands… It’s a blessing. It’s the MOST metal sad music is ever gonna get. And I am gonna be here with you Til I can’t do it anymore. We need this shit back home right now and I’m ready to throw down and bring the dream. LETS DO THIS!
Maybe I’ll have that custom Strat done by then ; )
Maybe even than custom pedal!!! ; )
I LOVE YOU PEOPLE
Happy Holidays: PEACE
Today is the 15-year anniversary of one of those Ryan Adams records I sure wish I liked better than I do, Gold. This is the album that was supposed to rocket him to the toppermost of the poppermost back in 2001; and while it didn’t quite accomplish that, it remains his commercial high-water mark. Having written tons and tons about this album over the years, including here as well as Chapter 13 of “Losering,” I don’t feel the need to rehash it all again one more time. But Ryan’s take on Gold and that time of his life is interesting — he published an anniversary note today on Instagram, and it’s worth a read.
Whatever is going on with Ryan Adams these days (and your guess is as good as mine), it seems as if a switch got flipped that put him back into his inimitable amped-up hyper-prolific mode. So after reporting recently that he was “done” with a project involving “65 plus songs,” Ryan has apparently continued on with said project. And according to his latest bulletin, delivered via Instagram, “this never ending record” is now up to 80 songs.
Ryan Adams may not play in his native state of North Carolina anymore (as we’ve covered), but he definitely remembers and represents where he came from. For example, there’s this Instagram photo he posted a few days ago, in which he’s wearing a T-shirt bearing the classic spiked-skull logo for Raleigh hardcore legends Corrosion of Conformity.
COC has been around since the early 1980s, becoming enough of a thrash-metal trademark to inspire a 2010 “Saturday Night Live” sketch starring a middleaged band called “Crisis of Conformity.” They were one of the main reasons that Ryan’s Patty Duke Syndrome bandmate Brian Walsby was inspired to move to Raleigh in the mid-’80s and still pretty much ruled the town at the time Ryan himself arrived from Jacksonville in the early ’90s. And COC is still at it all these years later, with a tour opening for Lamb of God on this year’s schedule.
Despite never having anything like a mainstream “hit,” COC stands as a great example of how staying power is what really counts over the long haul. The band’s best-selling album, Deliverance, peaked at just No. 155 on the Billboard 200 album-sales chart after it was released in the fall of 1994. And yet Deliverance has never stopped selling, to the point that it’s very close to reaching a very significant milestone.
I recently checked in on Deliverance‘s U.S. sales figures via Nielsen Soundscan, and it now stands at 499,000 copies — within just 1,000 copies of earning a gold record for half-a-million copies sold. So sometime in 2016, it should become official.
Somehow, COC earning a gold record before Ryan seems right and just. I expect Ryan himself would agree.
ADDENDUM (10/15/2016): A piece of long-ago COC history from 1984.
Despite plenty of recent ups and downs, Ryan Adams hasn’t seemed like that desperately sad kid he used to be for a long, long time. And while one hesitates to attach too much of the mojo of past glories to Ryan’s mental state, it sure is tempting. Thus we have this Instagram comment to a picture Ryan posted. Well-played, replikate34 — well-played. Although I hope it won’t get you blocked…
Young Ryan may not be so young anymore, but he’s definitely not dumb despite what he says in this Instagram post from the other night (interestingly, he has since deleted the caption). Being the dork that I am, I wonder if this backdrop is the same flag from the cover of his 2001 album Gold. Anyway, to the best bio subject one could ever hope to have, happy birthday in spite of it all. It’s hard to believe you’ve been gone from this part of the world for so long. May your 42nd year be the one in which you discover the meaning of life.
ADDENDUM (11/5/2016): A year later, Ryan seems relieved to wave bye-bye to 41.
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.
Come on, Taylor, make this wildest dream come true! Phil Wandscher might appreciate it, too!
The word is out: Monday (Sept. 21) is when Ryan Adams’ cover version of Taylor Swift’s 1989 album will be digitally released. Among the many people avidly awaiting DRA 1989 is Swift herself, who put out the response below via Instagram. Swift also tweeted that Ryan covering her songs “is surreal and dreamlike” because “Ryan’s music helped shape my songwriting,” capping the whole thing with a Countdown to #RyanAdams1989.
Meantime, take a listen to the preview of the 1989 track “Bad Blood” — which is pretty great, I’d say!
Came across a link to the Instagram photo below via Twitter. As I told this person, I am honored. But on the other hand…first book voluntarily read since high school, that is a lot of expectation to live up to. So I sure do hope that “Losering” doesn’t disappoint. No pressure there, right?