Music News

Ryan Adams Is As Prolific As Ever

Ryan Adams has been called many things: brilliant, temperamental and more. But the famously prolific tunesmith, who records solo and with his group, the Cardinals, is also something of a new-breed hippie who's comfortable sharing big-picture musings of the sort many performers keep to themselves.

An example? "This is a very strange place called a life, and there aren't many answers about what preceded it or what comes after it. And that's incredibly profound to me," he opines. "I'm incredibly moved to be on Earth and not to know why, or what it even means. Why are we on this planet, in the middle of this vast universe?"

Such guileless pronouncements imply that Adams may be under the influence of assorted controlled substances — but in a recent New York Times interview, he claimed to have kicked such habits prior to making his fine new long-player, Easy Tiger. Even so, he insists that the struggles inherent in such a lifestyle change had nothing to do with the longer-than-usual gap between Tiger's release and that of 29, the third of three CDs he released in an eight-month period beginning in May 2005. Indeed, he reveals that during this span, "there was actually a very interesting rock record that I recorded, and a Cardinals album that I admire greatly that happened before anyone heard Easy Tiger." Moreover, he's readying a boxed set of unreleased material that's likely to be at least six CDs long. It should include full-group versions of guitar-and-voice recordings leaked under the title The Suicide Handbook, as well as what he calls the unreleased "third side" to 2005's Cold Roses.

When he's asked if he fears that some of these tunes may get lost amid such an enormous flood of unreleased tracks, he responds, "There is no fear...I don't mix my art with fear. I just don't think that the world is going to suffer for more artistic ideas. I think, if anything, it suffers because of a lack of them. I can't imagine how bringing art into the world for people to exercise their free will and their decision to view it or not could be a negative thing.

"I'm trying to immortalize very tiny moments that felt to me like great transgressions of humanity, even in the simplest or seemingly most banal ways," he goes on. He hopes the songs that result serve "as an opening — an emotional portal, if you will — for others to access the wonder that I felt. Or maybe not wonder. It could have been disappointment or displeasure, or any of the feelings that a person can feel. Because they all feel pretty special to me. Every day is pretty incredible."

If Adams sounds like this clean, imagine what he must have been like before.

Visit our blogs for more of our interview with Ryan Adams.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts