Song of the Day #2: ‘Oh My Sweet Carolina’ – Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams is an artist who could be one of the all-time greats if he’d just stop making so much damn music. This guy writes a new song every hour of every day… which is fine, except he puts them all out on CDs. If you go to the store and pick up a new Ryan Adams release, the odds are pretty good that another Ryan Adams album will be released before you get back home.

So I have mostly given up on following his career closely — it would involve way too much time and money. But he has released two albums that I consider true classics. The first is Gold, which features the hits ‘New York, New York’ and ‘When the Stars Go Blue’ and brought him to national attention. The other, and better of the two, is Heartbreaker, his solo debut.

Heartbreaker is filled with soulful country and blues songs with a few rockers thrown into the mix. There isn’t a weak song on it and most of them sound like something you swear you’ve heard before, because how could a melody that sweet go undiscovered for that long?

‘Oh My Sweet Carolina’ is maybe the most beautiful song on the album, a wistful ballad about missing the simplicity of home. The narrator sings of time spent exploring the country, coming up empty.

I ain’t never been to Vegas, but I gambled up my life
building news print boats I raced to sewer mains

Up here in the city it feels like things are closin’ in
The sunset’s just my light bulb burnin’ out
I miss Kentucky and I miss my family
All the sweetest winds, they blow across the south.

Emmylou Harris provides achingly gorgeous backing vocals (something she does quite often, I’ve noticed) and the acoustic guitar/piano accompaniment makes you want to just curl up and cry.

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #2: ‘Oh My Sweet Carolina’ – Ryan Adams

  1. Amy says:

    This I love. I wonder if he’s ever claimed James Taylor, and Carolina in my Mind in particular, as an influence. Can’t figure out how to embed a video in my comment, so I’m included a link to Taylor’s classic Carolina valentine. I always loved it, but when I saw how it affected Cheryl’s cousin, whose family lived in North Carolina, when we would be nearing breaks at UF, I came to appreciate it on a whole new level. Ryan Adams’ song strikes me on that same level. When an artist effectively captures what a place means to him, he is able to create a powerful experience for listeners who have a shared appreciation of that place. That said, I bet residents of Cleveland don’t appreciate this song 🙂 Nice choice, Clay. I’m adding this one to my iPod.

  2. Clay says:

    If you like this one, I’d suggest you download the whole album (or let me rip it for you). Much of it is in the same vein, and it’s all great.

  3. Dana says:

    lovely song, and no need to copy it for us, as we already have it by virtue of our inheritance of your IPod collection:) One of the joys I have when playing my IPod is to simplpy put the shuffle setting on and start listening to the 6000+ songs in whatever order the Apple gods deem apporpriate. Inevitably, I will come across a song I really love without immediately recognizing the artist (because it originates in Clay’s collection). More often than not, I look at the IPod and discover the artist is Ryan Adams. (Similar experiences have been had with Belle and Sebastian, Beck, among others) He is definitely a talent, and one I am happy to have “discovered” through Clay’s collection.

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