Seventeen was a really good year for me. My grades were high, I had a fun and appropriately dangerous social life, I was listening to lots of new music after a two-year bad punk rut, and I had more money than I needed. So why, I ask you, was my favorite album at the time the most depressing ever?
Of course I’m talking about Ryan Adams’ first solo disc, Heartbreaker. For all of you Ryan Adams haters out there, settle down. This was before he became prolific to a fault and kind of whiney. On Heartbreaker he was just young and sad. I could relate to that.
He was also the first musician, nay music genre, that I had discovered on my own. I knew of one other person in my little town who was aware of him, but she wasn’t a fan. As a result, I felt a huge sense of ownership. He was MINE. And he was CUTE.
His music was also pretty damn good. Heartbreaker starts with an argument between Adams and David Rawlings about which Morrissey album the song “Suedehead” is on. Adams is letting you know the following: 1) He is a betting man; 2) He has a sense of humor enough to make funny voices; and 3) Even though the album you’re about to hear is primarily alt-country (complete with Gillian Welch and Emmylou Harris cameos), he’s down with the Moz. It’s the perfect lead-in to a song that shouldn’t be my personal anthem, but it kind of is, “To Be Young (is to be sad, is to be high).” The rest of the album tells a complete story, about a new love in a new town that turns sour. The majority of Adams’ subsequent albums, although good, don’t have the cohesion of Heartbreaker.
I try to listen to it all the way through at least a few times a year, and when I feel like death, I can always sing along to “My Winding Wheel.” My taste in music has changed some since then, and my love for Ryan has waned, but this album is more than just songs that I love. It’s me, kinda, just a lot better. (Buy it, you know you want it)
Ryan Adams – To Be Young (is to be sad, is to be high) Ryan Adams – My Winding Wheel Ryan Adams – Oh My Sweet Carloline Ryan Adams – Come Pick Me Up Ryan Adams – In My Time of Need
posted by Charlotte