Here’s the thing about Ryan Adams: Even when he’s being a gigantic pain in the ass, he’s still just about always the best musician in the room. One particular case in point is an October 2011 BBC Songwriters’ Circle taping that Ryan played with Neil Finn and Janis Ian, an event referenced in Chapter 17 of “Losering.” According to eyewitness accounts, some bad vibes went down and most observers seemed to blame Ryan — although Ryan disputed that and argued about it online, calling accounts of his misbehavior “fan fiction.” But at the very least, it seems safe to say that Ryan didn’t endear himself to his fellow performers based on what was said afterward.
Just another Ryan Adams story, right? Right, one of many. Ultimately, however, the interpersonal drama matters a lot less than the absolutely stunning version of “Come Pick Me Up” he played at the show. Give it a look, and I dare you not to get a lump in your throat because it really is that good. It appears that there’s some tension in the way Finn and Ian are looking at Ryan, and yet they also both appear to be fairly blown away by what they’re hearing; I love how they’re both singing along under their breath.
It’s the type of performance that earns redemption, if not forgiveness.