You know, there are times when I really do feel kind of sorry for Ryan Adams (or at least understand his paranoia about the negativity of haters). Consider “The ten biggest assholes in rock,” a listicle that’s been making the rounds after it originated in the Denver-based weekly Westword last month.
It’s very thin in both conception and execution, but I’ve certainly got no beef with the top choice; and it’s also hard to argue with the likes of Axl Rose (No. 2) and Courtney Love (No. 6) being on such a count-down. As for Ryan, he comes in at No. 9, the meat in a Brit sandwich between No. 10 Liam Gallagher and No. 8 Lily Allen. And what is cited as proof of Ryan’s assholery? The only thing the author came up with is the “Summer of ’69” blowup from way back in October 2002, which ain’t exactly new news.
Now granted, that was a regrettable moment and it certainly painted Ryan in a robustly asshole-ish light (see Chapter 15 of “Losering” for more details). Still, take it from someone who has witnessed far worse (and is also familiar with plenty more), it’s hardly definitive and it might not even rank in Ryan’s personal top-10. But if you’re going to claim that Ryan belongs in the pantheon of buttockal behavior — over Lou Reed, Aretha Franklin, Gene Simmons and numerous other certifiable legends of raging egomania missing from this list — it seems like you’d need to present a bit more than a single incident from over a decade ago. Just sayin’.