Posts Tagged With: Mandy Moore

Ryan Adams paints you a picture

drapSo this is going around as the cover of Ryan Adams’ long-awaited and oft-delayed next album Prisoner — which was originally scheduled for release last month but is now supposedly coming out in February (although he’s already playing its songs live and talking it up with Lil Bub). And this cover certainly does evoke a not-so-great feeling, making it a fitting visual symbol for an album made in the emotional fallout of his split from ex-wife Mandy Moore. That certainly seems to be the agenda of the first single, “Do You Still Love Me?”

Anyway, the cover art is one of Ryan’s paintings, and I thought it looked familiar. So I did a bit of online prowling around to try and find where I’d seen it before. And it appears to be from a group of paintings that Ryan had up for a charity auction back in 2009 at New York’s Morrison Hotel Gallery. You can see the original painting here, toward the bottom.

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“This House Is Not For Sale”

DRAMandyHouseActually, however, this house is for sale: The marital home that Mandy Moore and Ryan Adams shared in Los Angeles before they split up in early 2015 just went on the market, with an asking price of $3.199 million. According to records from the county tax assessor’s office, the property has a tax value of $2,488,589 (of which $1,575,923 is the land value of the .29-acre lot).

Located in the “Oaks” neighborhood of LA’s trendy Los Feliz district in Hollywood, the house clocks in at five bedrooms and just under 4,800 square feet. And it certainly does look very, very nice — “truly an entertainer’s dream!,” as the seller’s description enthuses. The complete listing spiel is below.

But yeah, given that this is happening against a backdrop of ongoing separation unpleasantness between Ryan and Mandy — it’s sad.

In the coveted “Oaks” neighborhood of Los Feliz, this 5BR+4.25BA 1927 Mediterranean home is on a private street w/ a 12,000+ SF street-to-street lot. A perfect balance of original period details and luxury modern amenities: Original magnesite stairs, wrought iron railings, beautiful wood floors w/decorative inlay + direct entry 2 car garage,post alarm system, and 2-zone heat/air. Main floor includes a reading/sitting room with ornate “wedding cake” beading on the ceiling, a large living room with fireplace and access to an outdoor patio facing the quiet park across the street, formal dining room, large chef’s kitchen with a butcher block-topped center island and walk-in pantry. Upstairs is a beautiful master suite with a private balcony plus three additional bedrooms and two more full baths. Behind the house lies the terraced back yard with multiple sitting areas and gardens, dotted with mature citrus trees and rose bushes. This home is truly an entertainer’s dream!

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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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A Loserblog milestone

100KSometime yesterday, this modest little WordPress blog quietly reached a milestone, though no one but me would have known it. According to the statistics page, loseringbook.wordpress.com has crossed the six-figure threshold, attracting more than 100,000 views since debuting at the end of July 2012 with an introductory post titled, “Hello world!” — actually 100,122 total views as of a few minutes ago, if we want to keep it up-to-date.

Two years and 10 months later, this is post number 313. My output has ebbed and flowed over that time, usually dictated by events. I was posting at least once a day during the initial publication period of the book “Losering” and also last fall, when there was lots of news surrounding Ryan Adams’ doings with his latest album and touring (and I must note with some disappointment that this blog’s most-viewed post to date remains the one about his divorce; oh well). There have also been slow stretches where I’ve gone weeks between posts, either because Ryan didn’t have anything going on in public or I was busy elsewhere — or just not feeling inspired regarding DRA World.

LoseringBut I’ve had enough fun here to keep the blog going beyond its initial mission of supplying background for “Losering” (a function it sometimes still serves, such as when I have mistakes to correct). It’s been a way to acknowledge some of Ryan’s old bandmates, as well as various superfans and others’ Ryan-inspired artwork, plus weird reactions and other projects I’m involved in. If nothing else, the Ryan Adams Reference Library page gets enough traffic that I feel like the superfans still find it useful. And if Ryan ever takes the unlikely step of ending his North Carolina embargo, I’m sure I’ll have plenty to say about that here and elsewhere.

Beyond that, I’m not sure about the Loserblog’s future. It does have a certain amount of momentum built up and a handful of subscribers (thanks, y’all!), and it gets enough feedback on social media to make me feel like it’s worthwhile to keep it going. So I think it will continue, at least for a while longer. We shall see.

In any case, to everyone who has been a part of that 100,000 number — which, it goes without saying, is a whole bunch of multiples of the sales achieved by the “Losering” book — you have my grateful thanks. I appreciate you stopping by. Keep on coming back and I’ll do my best to make it worth your while.

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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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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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Ryan’s 2013, detailed before it even happens

Magic8BallA friend of mine had a funny idea for “Losering” promotion — some tongue-in-cheek “predictions” for how Ryan Adams might spend 2013. So with the aid of a crystal and Magic 8 Ball, I put together a list at his behest. Alas, things fell through with the magazine that was to run them, and they never saw the light of print. But since I hate for anything to go to waste, I present them to you below. They are quite silly, yes; still, maybe not all that far removed for what our favorite Scorpio might be up to this year…

Just because Ryan Adams didn’t release an album of new material in 2012, that doesn’t mean he was musically idle. Along with putting out a crazy huge 15-disc live box set and dropping twitter hints about getting started on a new record, Adams spent time in the studio with his wife Mandy Moore, electronic superstar deadmau5, The Lemonheads, D Generation, Butch Walker and who knows who else. None of those recordings have surfaced, but all the collaborations got us to thinking about what worlds the alt-country king might be looking to conquer in 2013. Our fearless predictions:

* After Norah Jones introduces Adams to her half-sister Anoushka Shankar at the Grammy Awards, he takes up sitar and heads in a more grandiose direction, enlisting the Polyphonic Spree and Mormon Tabernacle Choir for what he describes as a “Zen concept album that will bring Twinkies back.” The project collapses when they can’t work out the logistics of Phil Spector handling production by phone from prison.

* Adams’ pal Elton John introduces him to Liza Minnelli at the Oscars, and they hit it off. With Minnelli’s encouragement, Adams is emboldened to make his Broadway debut playing her signature role – as Sally Bowles in a revival of “Cabaret.” But the show doesn’t make it out of previews.

* Inspired by his deadmau5 collaboration, Ryan puts on his DJ Reggie hat and convinces the surviving members of Run-DMC to let him join as replacement deejay for the late Jam-Master Jay. To great acclaim, Run-DRA makes its debut at the Coachella Festival. But in-fighting leads to a lineup implosion before a scheduled headlining slot at Bonnaroo.

* Declaring that he wants to take his native North Carolina’s “FIRST IN FLIGHT” license-plate motto to its logical conclusion, Adams applies to NASA with the intention of becoming a space-shuttle pilot. Upon discovering that the shuttle program ended in 2011, he puts his disappointment aside and goes to Plan B: applying for a pilot’s job at Pan Am Airlines. Um…

* While working with Cameron Crowe on a soundtrack song, Adams meets Ennio Morricone, the legendary spaghetti-western film-score composer. Discussions ensue about Morricone and Adams working together on a soundtrack to the movie version of Adams’ yet-to-be-published novel, “Bastard Diaries of Los Angeles.” The project stalls out when nobody can find Clint Eastwood’s phone number.

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Another record?…Pretty please?…

So our man Ryan has spent long stretches of the past few years out of the public eye, uncharacteristically quiet on the music front. There was the breakup of the Cardinals and his Meniere’s Disease, plus who knows what else going on behind the scenes. Ashes & Fire, released one year ago this week, broke a several-year silence — and it had me wondering what might be next, fingers crossed in cautious optimism; A&F seemed like a return to form, the best thing he’d done in eons.

Well, he’s gotten busy, all right. The last few months have brought reports of Ryan producing his wife Mandy Moore; producing and playing drums in the reunited Lemonheads; and working in the studio with Tennis, Liz Phair, Butch Walker and even electronic superstar deadmau5, among others. Which is cool and all, sure, plus the sort of headline fuel that makes the rock-media world go ’round.

Still…I have to admit that I’d rather see Ryan just bear down on another record of his own. And God knows where he’s finding the time, but it appears he might be gearing up to do just that, if his Twitter feed is to be believed. This weekend, Ryan has posted a couple of pictures suggesting that he’s in the midst of pulling together material for a new album, with tantalizing verbiage:

Work. Writing songs.

Sketching the blueprints of my new record. Only a month to go.

Two more new songs today. Damn.

Here’s hoping!

ADDENDUM (2/19/13): Complete list of Ryan’s extracurricular credits.

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