Posts Tagged With: Taylor Swift

Coming in 2017: “Woman Walk the Line”

UTPressLogoWith Lloyd Sachs’ “T Bone Burnett: A Life in Pursuit” safely launched, we turn to the next book in the American Music Series, which will be the 11th that University of Texas Press has published since 2012. And that’s “Chrissie Hynde: A Musical Biography,” by Adam Sobsey; we’ll have plenty more to say about it closer to the March 2017 publication date. Meanwhile, there’s also some American Music Series news beyond that.

Coming in the fall of 2017 is “Woman Walk the Line: Women Writers on the Female Country Artists Who Marked Their Soul,” which will be something of a departure for the series. Up to now, it’s been all critical biographies by a single author and about a single subject. But “Woman Walk the Line” is our first essay collection by multiple authors. Subjects include a wide range of artists from classic to contemporary — Rosanne Cash, Taylor Swift, Loretta Lynn, The Judds, Alison Krauss, Bobbie Gentry, Tammy Wynette — with Cash, Swift, Holly George-Warren and Meredith Ochs among the contributors writing about why these artists matter.

Overseeing “Woman Walk the Line” as editor is Holly Gleason — a long-time critic, author and Nashville insider who is also the only music critic I know with a co-writing credit for a No. 1 hit (Kenny Chesney’s 2008 country smash “Better as a Memory”). Between her connections, critical chops and deeply passionate writing voice, there’s no one better to edit a book like this.

“‘Woman Walk the Line’ came about because it feels like we’re not just in danger of losing the story of so many incredible artists, especially the women, but that deeper sense of what music can truly to mean to someone in their life,” says Holly. “The way this music and these women are written about says so much about the way music marks our lives, shapes our journey or keeps us safe in rugged times. It’s women of varying ages all writing about how music touched and changed their lives — part witness, part love letter, a bit of music criticism, a little history and a whole lot of heart. It’s more than what they wore or who they dated, as today’s reductionist media makes it. And that’s where the marrow of these essays begins.”

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“1989 Is Hell”

The “Ryan Adams Covers 1989″ concept grows ever more meta. The latest wrinkle comes from Babetown, (Jessica Leibowitz and Danny Ross), a self-described “surf-rock duo based in New York.” They’ve made 1989 Is Hell, a remake of Ryan’s 2003 album Love Is Hell with the songs rearranged as Taylor Swift-style pop — including “Wonderwall,” which is itself a cover of a 1995 Oasis song. Wow.

Release date is Aug. 31, but you can preview three of its tracks below or on the group’s Soundcloud. And Ryan himself has given the project his enthusiastic blessing via Instagram post (“SO RAD!”), which is also below.



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Meanwhile, on Planet Pitchfork…

…Seven out of 10 readers (or at least respondents to its annual Readers’ Poll for 2015) prefer Taylor Swift’s 1989 to DRA 1989. Guess it’s not just Grammy voters that like Swift’s original better.


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Taylor Swift’s “Heartbreaker” — seems fair

It’s kind of hard to imagine nobody thought to do this before now, redoing the oft-parodied cover to Ryan Adams’ 2000 album Heartbreaker as an apparent Taylor Swift tribute version. In any event — well-played, Clifton Robert Dickens. Well-played. And Ryan himself even liked it enough to share, which is an improvement over a recent Twitter reaction.


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Halloweenhead: The next generation

DRAjrSay hey to Liam Gladden, age 5 and very possibly the most avid Ryan Adams superfan in his demographic. Young Liam lives in Salisbury, Md., with his family including his mother, Mandy Gladden, who does a parenting blog. She writes:

We started to play the (self-titled) and “Ashes and Fire” albums at home and in the car. Liam really started to love the songs. His favorites are “Gimme Something Good,” “Ashes and Fire,” “Dirty Rain” and “Kindness.” He really loves them all and plays drums and guitar while he sings (my husband is a drummer and Liam also has his own set and a little guitar). He loves the “1989” cover album and sings all those songs, too.

Liam watches Ryan on YouTube and says he wants to see Ryan in concert. He asked to be Ryan (he calls him by his first name) for Halloween and also to grow his hair out like Ryan’s. We got him the wig instead. He’s so excited to be Ryan and can’t wait for his “Ryan sunglasses” to come in this week to complete his costume. My other two kids like the music, but not like Liam does. He’s quite the little fan.

Come Saturday night, I bet this kid cleans up on Halloween candy.

FOLLOWUP (10/31/2015): It turns out that Liam’s big sister is going as Taylor Swift.


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The Ryan/Taylor quiz — who said what?

RyanTaylorQuizAs DRA 1989 settles into its free-falling chart descent, there are still a few ephemeral Ryan Adams/Taylor Swift artifacts out there — including this online quiz, Who Said It: Taylor Swift Or Ryan Adams? Sounds like it should be simple, right? Wrong. I took a crack at it and as you can see from the summary on the right, I only managed to answer six out of 10 questions correctly. Ouch.

And yet according to figures from quiz-writer Darren Robbins (who put this together for his blog), that score would probably translate to a C rather than a D if graded on a curve. That 60 percent represents the mean or most common score, hit by 26 percent of the 350 people who have completed the quiz so far.

Only 6 percent achieved a score of 80 and less than 1 percent got 90. And as for perfection, to date only one person has correctly answered all 10 questions and received the certificate that goes with it, my British superfan friend Andrew (see below). Give the test a try and see how well you do.

UPDATE (10/7/2015): After I put this post up on social media, another 169 people took the quiz over the next 24 hours or so – 11 of whom achieved perfect scores. That brings the total number of A+ students to an even dozen, out of 519 who have taken the quiz so far.

ADDENDUM (10/15/2015): Which Ryan Adams “1989” Song Are You? I’m not the target demographic, but I took it anyway — “Wildest Dreams.”


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“DRA 1989” goes down (the charts)

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 10.27.58 AMWhen word first emerged that Ryan Adams was covering Taylor Swift’s 1989 in its entirety, there was a lot of worried talk among Ryan’s hardcore fans about how this might be his “Touch of Grey” moment where he got too popular too fast. But everyone can relax because it appears those fears were unfounded. For all the online buzz (not to mention asinine gender-privilege debates) inspired by the album, it does not appear to be reaching much beyond Ryan’s previously established fan base. So far, it’s following the same debut-high-and-fall-fast pattern as Ryan’s other albums.

After debuting at a respectable No. 7 last week, DRA 1989 takes a steep second-week drop all the way down to No. 22 in the Billboard 200 album-sales chart dated Oct. 17. That mirrors what happened with last year’s self-titled Ryan Adams album, which debuted at No. 4 — and in an odd coincidence, also dropped to No. 22 the following week. Ryan Adams was off the chart entirely after just seven weeks; as of this past August, it had sold 134,000 copies. It seems likely that DRA 1989 will top out at around that same figure.

By contrast, Swift’s original 1989 continues to show impressive staying power coming up on a year since its original release. Her 1989 is at No. 7 this week (where DRA 1989 was last week), its 49th on the chart, and has yet to spend a single week outside of the top-10. It has also sold more than 5 million copies in the U.S.

UPDATES — 10/13/2015: A week later, DRA 1989 is down another 18 notches to No. 40 in its third week on the chart. Swift’s 1989, meanwhile, climbs one spot to No. 6 in its 50th week in the top-10.

10/20/2015: On the Oct. 31 chart, DRA 1989 plummets another 43 notches down to No. 83 in week four — while Swift’s original 1989 holds steady at No. 6 after 51 weeks.

10/27/2015: DRA 1989 drops again on the Nov. 7 chart, but only one notch to No. 84 in week number five. Taylor’s original 1989, meanwhile, is perilously close to dropping out of the top-10 for the first time ever — down three spots to No. 9 as it marks one full year on the charts.

11/3/2015: Week six finds DRA 1989 resuming its freefall, taking a 55-spot plummet down to No. 139 on the Nov. 14 chart in week six. Upstairs from there, Taylor’s 1989 begins its SECOND YEAR in Billboard’s top-10 by rebounding two spots back up to No. 7.

11/10/2015: The CD/vinyl release of DRA 1989 helps it take a big rebound in week six, all the back up to No. 51 in week seven. But this weeks’ big news is with Swift’s original, which is finally out of the top-10 for the first time — pushed down to No. 11 in week 53 by four top-10 debuts and Chris Stapleton’s post-CMA buzz taking him to No. 1. Odds are she’ll be back in the top-10 next week.

11/17/2015: DRA 1989 resumes its freefall, right back down to No. 138 in its eighth week. That does put it ahead of last year’s Ryan Adams for chart longevity, at least; but given the 87-spot plunge that 1989 just took, it’s 50-50 whether or not the album will still be on the charts next week. Also, to my surprise, Swift’s original 1989 did not rebound into the top-10 this week. It drops three spots to No. 14.

11/24/2015: And eight weeks is all DRA 1989 managed (at least in the initial run), as it drops off the Billboard 200 altogether on the Dec. 5 chart topped by Justin Bieber. Swift’s time in the top-10 with her 1989 might be done, too, as it slips four spots to No. 18 in week 56.

12/22/2015: After an absence of nearly a month, DRA 1989 pops back onto the chart at a healthy No. 84 (byproduct of the album’s release on vinyl, most likely) for a ninth week on the Jan. 2 chart topped (again) by Adele. And Swift’s 1989 is back in the top-10, at No. 9 in its 60th week. As for sales, DRA 1989 stands at 115,000 copies (89,000 of them digital), which is short of the 134,000 that Ryan Adams was at back in August. DRA 1989 has also been streamed on-demand 30.4 million times, according to Nielsen Soundscan.

12/29/2015: DRA 1989 hangs in there for a 10th week, at No. 184 on the Jan. 9 chart — a 100-place drop, which means it’s probably gone next week. But Swift’s 1989 is still in the top-10, up a notch to No. 8 in week No. 61.

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DRA 1989 on the charts: no peak, but ahead of Taylor Swift

Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 3.07.46 PMWell, Ryan Adams did not set a new personal chart high-water mark with his version of Taylor Swift’s 1989, which he released this past Monday. It sold 56,000 copies in its first week to debut at No. 7 on the Billboard 200 album-sales chart dated Oct. 10. While that’s a fine showing (and his fourth top-10 album overall), it’s still three notches below what last year’s Ryan Adams debuted and peaked at — although if you compare their sales figures, DRA 1989 actually outsold RA by more than 10,000 copies in their respective opening weeks.

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For all the acclaim garnered (or at least discussion generated), DRA 1989 still debuted behind new albums by Drake/Future (No. 1), singer Lana Del Rey (No. 2), rapper Mac Miller (No. 4), Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour (No. 5) and Florida hard-rock band Shinedown (No. 6). But in a delicious bit of synchronicity, DRA 1989 comes in one notch ahead of Swift’s original quintuple-platinum version of 1989, which is at No. 8 with 42,000 sold in its 48th week on the chart. This is, I believe, the first time that two different artists’ versions of the same set of songs have been in Billboard’s top-10 simultaneously.

ADDENDA (9/30-10/2/2015): Along with the Top 200 showing of DRA 1989, seven of the album’s 13 songs have made Billboard’s Hot Rock Songs Chart simultaneously. Previously, Ryan had a grand total of three songs on that chart. And yes, this is indeed the first time two versions of the same set of songs have been in the top-10 together.

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Covering Whiskeytown seems like the least Taylor Swift could do…

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!


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“1989” goes viral

FJMDRAThis was probably inevitable, but it sure happened faster than I would’ve expected: Father John Misty covering Ryan Adams’ cover of Taylor Swift’s 1989 hit “Blank Space,” in the style of Velvet Underground-era Lou Reed. It’s meta enough to make the mind reel (and wonder who will be next to weigh in) — but check it out! And then check out Misty’s similar treatment of “Welcome to New York.”

Meanwhile, nice to see a quote from my previous 1989 blog post show up in Salon’s piece about the album today. I may not be an expert on Ryan, but… yeah, I’ve been paying attention a while

UPDATE: One day later, both of Misty’s 1989 tracks have disappeared from Soundcloud; maybe he thought better of it, but the snark lingers. And at least “Blank Space” has turned up on YouTube (see below).

SECOND UPDATE: And now Misty is saying that Lou Reed came to him in a dream and commanded him to take the 1989 songs down. Um… (10/8/2015 — No, he was just kidding about that Lou Reed dream business. Duh.)

ADDENDUM (9/24/2015): Getting in on the fun, Dirty Bangs.

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