Essay by Lauren Leonard
”In high school, by virtue of one friend’s spectacular breasts and that teenage brand of naive confidence, my girl gang and I saw a lot of shows and obsessed over a lot of boys in bands. We elbowed our way into front rows and camped out on festival lawns subsisting on sugar and Natty Light and heeding nature’s call behind the nearest tree. We rode all over God’s Country in cars where bodies far outnumbered seatbelts. We snuck out. We made out. Miraculously, save one poorly timed pregnancy, we managed to make it out and grow up. …
Now it’s the music that matters, more specifically, the lyrics. It’s the well-drawn story that captures my heart and brings me back time and time again. Today the boys in bands are Petty, Joel, Duritz, Springsteen, and, looming largest, Adams.
Ryan Adams is a prolific singer-songwriter. His words play in between a burning desire to say everything and the need to fold himself away like a card table. He perfectly paints the picture of the sad sap in the bar who can’t find love, and the former lover who fucked all your friends and then, perhaps more devastatingly, stole your record collection. He captures exquisitely the fraught relationships we have with the people and places we call home; crippling anxiety and depression; the terror and the possibility of loving another human being; and the freedom of letting it all go.
As renowned as his musical prowess is Adams’ mercurial temperament. Since the ’90s, he’s been smashing guitars, alienating industry bigwigs and audiences—do NOT request songs by Bryan Adams at a Ryan Adams show—ghosting on collaborators, and shit-talking fellow musicians (see Ryan Adams v. Jack White; Ryan Adams v. Father John Misty; Ryan Adams v. The Strokes). His public life has been a merry-go-round of acclaim and apology.”
For full text and images, consider reading RQ in print, on a Sunday afternoon, sun streaming through your window, coffee in hand, and nary a phone alert within sight or in earshot… just fine words, fine design, and the opportunity to make a stitch in time // Print is dead. Long live print. //