Song of the Day #2,639: ‘How You Get the Girl’ – Ryan Adams

ryan_adams_1989The most unexpected new release this year has to be Ryan Adams’ song-for-song cover of Taylor Swift’s 1989. It’s such a delightfully random project, like a piece of fan fiction come to life.

It also turns out to be a very good album in its own right. Adams is faithful to the melodies and lyrics of Swift’s originals but gives each his own stylistic spin, mostly slowing them down and trading pop rock for folk rock.

This approach highlights the strength of Swift’s songwriting on 1989, something that has been overshadowed by her shift toward a pure pop sound. In interviews about this project, Adams has called Swift one of the great songwriters of the modern age and he supports that opinion through these renditions.

My least favorite songs on Swift’s 1989 take on new life on Adams’ version. ‘Welcome to New York,’ ‘Shake It Off’ and ‘Bad Blood’ are all subtler and more emotionally honest here. He has less success monkeying with ‘Style,’ which is perfect in its original form. Adams’ stab at giving it a U2 makeover falls flat.

Most interesting is his brilliantly subtle delivery of ‘Blank Space,’ a song I can now call one of the best of two back-to-back years by two different artists.

Today’s SOTD is another example of a very different take on a highlight from Swift’s record, ‘How You Get the Girl.’ I love both versions.

I hope this project opens the minds of some jaded indie rock fans who might be dismissive of Taylor Swift’s talent, blinded by the light of her stardom. Adams makes a convincing case here of both his greatness and hers.

[Verse 1]
Stand there like a ghost
Shaking from the rain
She’ll open up the door and say, “Are you insane?”
Say it’s been a long six months
And you were too afraid to tell her what you want
And that’s how it works
That’s how you get the girl

[Pre-Chorus]
And then you say, I want you for worse or for better
I would wait forever and ever
Broke your heart, I’ll put it back together
I would wait forever and ever

[Chorus]
And that’s how it works
That’s how you get the girl

[Verse 2]
Remind her how it used to be
With pictures in frames of kisses on cheeks
Tell her how you must have lost your mind
When you left her all alone and never told her why
And that’s how it works
That’s how you lost the girl

[Pre-Chorus] + [Chorus]

[Bridge]
And you know that I don’t want you to go
Remind me how it used to be
Pictures in frames of kisses on cheeks
And say you want me
And then you say…

[Pre-Chorus] + [Chorus]

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One thought on “Song of the Day #2,639: ‘How You Get the Girl’ – Ryan Adams

  1. Dana says:

    We just saw him before “Bad Blood” and “Style” on the (new) Daily Show. I really wasn’t aware he had done this before then, though my family, being bigger Swift fans, were well aware. Definitely an interesting move on Adams’ part, and an astute business decision as this has brought greater attention to him.

    I haven’t yet heard the rest of the album, including the ones you (and my family) consider highlights. Will need to check those out. Today’s song sounds Springsteen-esque, which is both a compliment to Swift’s writing and Adams’ interpretation.

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