Posts Tagged With: New York New York

Ryan Adams burns (joints) in the night

RABITNBy now, everybody who takes a chance on one of Ryan Adams’ limited-edition seven-inch singles should know that they’re pretty much of a crapshoot. The series has offered up the occasional gem like last fall’s heartbreaking “Jacksonville,” as well as odious turkeys like the thoroughly useless “Vampires.” But his latest effort, “Burn in the Night,” lands closer to the good end of that gem-to-turkey spectrum. The opening title track is a chiming rocker with a rough edge; it would have perked up last year’s Ryan Adams album a good bit had he found a way to make it fit. And the closing “Look in the Mirror,” an outtake from Ryan’s Husker Du tribute EP 1984, is by far the best third cut of this seven-inch series — it feels like an actual song rather than a self-indulgent goof. But of course, this wouldn’t be Ryan if it didn’t have at least one missed opportunity, and that would be the middle track. “Cop City” starts out more than promisingly enough with an arrangement reminiscent of The Who, pairing a Pete Townshend-style clarion-call guitar riff with nicely overplayed drums. But that good first impression starts to fade once you pay attention to the words Ryan is singing, and the realization sets in that they’re probably something he came up with on the spot while under the influence of a great deal of pot:

Eddie & the Cruisers But they were from Mars And they all survived on chocolate bars…

LoseringOh, Ryan…Anyway, take a listen here, and peep his online description (which I’m including below just in case it disappears from his website, as tends to happen). Regarding the part that I’ve boldfaced, I’d like to think it means that “Burn in the Night” was written about Amy Lombardi; and if that’s the case, it’s so cool that he’s still writing the occasional song about his long-ago “New York, New York” muse all these years later. See chapter eight of “Losering” for more about that.

Los Angeles… ugh…WHAT ARE YOU?!? That is how this single feels to me. Three tracks from the hot summer nights — greenish smoke billowing out from the upstairs office door of the PaxAm office, just next to the live room. Burn In The Night is me ruminating on an old NYC love lost- and how funny it is to get older and sort of put some of that behind you- but never really getting as far behind you as you’d like. I always felt like that song was really special but it never fit anywhere. Thank goodness we make these singles. Marshall on the drums, me on the guitar and everything else. COP CITY- another song about the last weekend of every month in LA when all the police are out giving tickets and ALL I WANNA DO IS GET TO MY PINBALL SPOT. This was one of the jams me and Mike V made on the never-to be-released ALIEN USA album experiment with Jeremy Stacey on drums and us going for the “big sound.” We found it later but here and there a few really cool tracks stood out. This one especially feels so good. Its traffic and being at the end of your rope. LOOK IN THE MIRROR is me on everything and a song that I recorded too late to go on the 1984 record. Hey but NOT TO WORRY… soon you’ll have 1985 and 1986…. and who knows what else. With Love, From the early summer tour 2015 DRA The Windsor Hotel

ADDENDUM (7/31/2015): Next up in the seven-inch series is “Willow Lane.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t even sound half-baked — more like quarter-baked. It does, however, have some first-rate accompanying verbiage.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Waiting for the end of the world

DRAoccultResponseSome people have entirely too much time on their hands. For example, there’s the obviously quite-addled gentleman who put together this video you can watch below, in which he purports to reveal the “Occult symbolism hidden in Ryan Adams WTC music video shot 4 days before 9/11.” Whoever ColCasperUK is, he claims to have discovered numerous Satanic Easter eggs scattered throughout Ryan’s various album covers (especially the recurrent images of roses and the color blue), but most of all in Ryan’s 2001 video for “New York, New York.” I’ll save you 14-plus minutes of rambling incoherence by noting his conclusion:

“All this man is, is nothing but occult.”

Thanks for clearing that up, dude. As wack-job conspiracy theories go, it’s nothing special — and despite lots of vague innuendo about allegedly devilish intentions, at least the guy doesn’t try to claim that Ryan was actually responsible for the Sept. 11 terror attacks. But the funny part is that, given his well-documented love for black metal, Ryan’s response to accusations of necromancy would probably be something along the lines of, Hell, yes!

ADDENDUM: Or the tweet shown above. On behalf of those of us who are Blocked By Ryan Adams on Twitter, thanks Nicole Kriegbaum.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Losering: The Songs of Ryan Adams” — wish you were here

DMMCBack in Whiskeytown’s prime, I really wanted them to break through to widespread popularity, which seems a bit odd in retrospect. Sure, it would have been fun to watch from close range; but I can’t say why I was rooting for them beyond a vague belief that a large audience was going to provide some measure of validation. There was closure that only a large crowd singing along with “Sixteen Days” was going to provide.

Fittingly and belatedly, that happened last night, sort of. The fine folks at Deep South The Bar in Raleigh put together a tribute show inspired by my book, “Losering: The Songs of Ryan Adams,” and I got to emcee. And about halfway through the show, while members of the band Old Quarter were playing “Sixteen Days” — the song I thought was going to be Whiskeytown’s big breakout hit way back in 1997 — I was hollering along with everyone else in the soldout house and feeling chills about the experience.

Ghost has got me running
Away from you, away from you, awaaaaaay…

It was a truly wonderful night, very much a feeling of being among friends and fellow fans; as much a tribute to the milieu Ryan came out of as to Ryan himself. There were multiple highlights, some of which went like this:

Aaron Menconi, shortly before asking why he started that damn country band.

Aaron Menconi, shortly before asking why he started that damn country band.

The Equivocators — Featuring my dear friend Scott Huler, they kicked things off with three songs from Whiskeytown’s Faithless Street album; “Midway Park,” “Hard Luck Story” and the title track. When Scott got to the “started this damn country band” line, I coached my 18-year-old son Aaron to yell out, “Why’d you do that?”

David Teeter (from the band Martha Ann Motel) — He brought out a couple of more recent Ryan solo songs, “Shadowlands” and “Desire.” And to make the absent guest of honor seem more present, David also played the recording of the infamous Jim DeRogatis voicemail, a legendary moment in artist-critic relations. Guffaws all around.

Ryan Kennemur — Continuing in a humorous vein, Ryan gave a nod to Mr. Adams’ touchier side by belting out a bit of Bryan Adams’ “Summer of ’69.” Then he got down to business, and his versions of “Turn Around,” “Avenues” and especially “If He Can’t Have You” were outstanding.

John Booker and Rachel Hirsh (I Was Totally Destroying It) — Major props go to John, who did a fantastic job with booking the acts for this show. And he and his bandmate Rachel did great with four songs — “Everybody Knows,” “Call Me On Your Way Back Home,” “Don’t Be Sad” and “Firecracker.” There was an enthusiastic audience sing-along on the latter song, and John needled me a bit for not giving it and the rest of Ryan’s Gold album sufficient respect in the book. Touche! Danny Johnson, who plays in about a thousand other bands, sat in.

Bobby Bryson — I’d never heard Bobby before, and he might have played my favorite set of the night with stellar versions of “A Kiss Before I Go,” “Let It Ride” (also much audience singing along here) and “Carolina Rain.” He showed absolute command instrumentally as well as vocally, and I loved his stage presence. Afterward, he presented me with a business card carrying the slogan Songs that gently rip your heart out. I believe it.

DeepSouthCharles Marshall and Richard Bolton (Balsa Gliders) — They put a couple of Strangers Almanac-era Whiskeytown classics through some unusual paces, quieting down “Waiting to Derail” and rocking up “Avenues.” Very cool, inventive versions that they clearly put some thought into.

John Massengil, George Hage and Danny Johnson (Old Quarter) — The aforementioned “Sixteen Days” sing-along went over great. So did “Jacksonville Skyline” and a lovely reading of “Houses on the Hill.” Meg Johnson sat in on vocals (and also with Jack the Radio). Felt like being at the Brewery back in the day.

Jack the Radio — Speaking of sing-alongs, there was a raucous one on “Come Pick Me Up,” maybe the most exuberant of the night. “O My Sweet Carolina” and “Lucky Now” rounded it out.

Adam Lane and Jeff Mullins — Ryan Kennemur returned for an exceptionally sweet harmony vocal on “Desperate Ain’t Lonely” (which they rehearsed once, outside in the parking lot, and Ryan had to read the lyrics off his phone — perfect). They also offered up a couple of nice rarities, “Onslow County” and “Oh My Sweet Valentine,” which never fails to put a lump in my throat. Last night was no exception.

Ryan Mullaney and Ashley Gray — Two fine singers teamed up to harmonize on “Desire” and the Gold standard “When the Stars Go Blue” (take that, Tim McGraw).

Wylie Hunter (Wylie Hunter & the Cazadores) — Back to Whiskeytown days with “Dancing With the Women at the Bar,” and Heartbreaker‘s “Be My Winding Wheel.” Really glad to hear both.

ChipNYNYChip Robinson (Backsliders) — He sat at the piano and covered “New York, New York,” reading lyrics he’d scribbled out by hand. Fascinating, weird and pretty great, made even moreso because he was wearing a Wu-Tang Clan T-shirt. I snagged the hand-written lyrics for my archive.

Debonzo Brothers — Jeff and Keef with another long-lost favorite, “Hey There, Mrs. Lovely” (yay!), plus Heartbreaker‘s “In My Time of Need.”

Be The Moon — And in the closing slot, this trio from Burlington offered up the resurrected Whiskeytown song “Am I Unstable.” It was fantastic, featuring box drum and an arrangement that Peter Blackstock’s memory placed in the ballpark of the original (which Whiskeytown only played live once, nearly 13 years ago).

All told, the event raised $579 for the Future of Music Coalition. I could not be happier, and prouder of everyone involved. Thanks to all the musicians, and especially to Deep South impressario Dave Rose for making it happen.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Bryan Adams: how to heckle

So they just announced that Bryan Adams is coming to town on his “Bare Bones” acoustic tour, which will play Jan. 22 at Meymandi Concert Hall. And here’s what I’m wondering: Given that Meymandi is the very place where Ryan played his last Raleigh concert back in June of 2005 (an event recounted in chapter 16 of “Losering”), and Ryan’s own heckling history with select portions of Bryan’s catalog…should I go and yell for “16 Days”? Or “New York, New York”?

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Where were you on Sept. 11?

One of the most bucolic, carefree days of my adult life was Sept. 10, 2001. It was an eerily beautiful fall day, just like it is again today, and a Monday. I took the day off from work to play in a charity golf tournament with some pals, which was a blast, and afterward we all stuffed ourselves with barbecue long into the evening. I made it home in time to watch the Denver Broncos stomp the bejesus out of the New York Giants on “Monday Night Football.”

Indeed, about the only disquieting moment of that day involved Ryan. His big Gold album was coming out in a few weeks, and despite all the buzz, I didn’t much care for it; some decent songs, including “New York, New York,” but most of it just didn’t move me. On the drive to the golf course, I told a mutual friend that I was not relishing the prospect of writing my first lukewarm review of one of Ryan’s works. He suggested I just not review it, but I didn’t feel like I could duck this one.

The next morning, my opinion of Gold slipped way down the list of important things because the world ended. I was in the kitchen tending to breakfast dishes when the phone rang. It was Leigh, my then-wife, who was on her way to Chapel Hill to speak to a class, calling to say she’d heard on the radio that a plane had just hit the World Trade Center. Wow, that was…odd. So I walked into the den and turned on the television — just in time to see a plane hit the second tower in real time. Although it took a minute for what I’d just seen to register.

What, they got this on film?…Wait a minute…They’re…BOTH on fire?…WHAT THE???!!!…

The rest of that day was ghastly, and I felt like I was in a fog. I went to the newsroom but couldn’t focus on anything, until I spied the Bob Dylan album that had just come out that day; Love and Theft, sitting on my desk. So I fired that up, and suddenly the world made sense again. It was all still beyond awful, of course. But listening to Love and Theft was calming, in an odd way, because it conveyed a sense of just how such terrible things could happen. Context. On that horrible, brightly sunny Tuesday, that was about as good as it was going to get.

And so I wrote this, which ran in the paper the following Sunday. Meanwhile, there was comfort of a different sort to be had in Ryan’s “New York, New York.” As David Browne wrote in Entertainment Weekly a few weeks later:

Heard in the aftermath of the collapse of the World Trade Center, “New York, New York” now feels cathartic and healing in ways it never did before. The same is true of the rest of Gold. In light of this recent horror, the album’s sprawling tour through American music, from coast to beer-stained coast, is like a diner full of comfort food…And Adams, for all the hand-me-down nature of his music and his degenerate-rebel image, sounds like a healer.

Eleven years later, they’re both worth another listen. Meanwhile, Dylan has another new album out on Sept. 11. I should probably go pick it up. Meantime, this is also worth another read.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.