Of all those releases, the two I know best — the only two I know well, really — are the first two. 2000’s Heartbreaker and 2001’s Gold are both excellent, wide-ranging works and among my favorite records of that decade. In fact, it just struck me that I somehow missed that Heartbreaker was a 2000 release or else it surely would have made my personal best-of list.
When I reviewed Ryan Adams’ song-for-song recreation of Taylor Swift’s smash hit 1989, I predicted that ‘Blank Space’ would end up on my best-of song list two years in a row by two different artists. Good call.
Adams turns the track into a gentle, breathy ballad, sad where Swift’s (also excellent) version is slightly taunting.
Over the next few weeks I’ll dive into the next installment of an occasional series here at Meet Me in Montauk, where I focus on a single year and post songs from both my favorite albums and the acclaimed albums I’ve never heard.
I started this series with 1972 (my birth year) and subsequently covered 1982 and 1992. Now I jump ahead another decade to 2002, a year after the 9/11 attacks, the year I turned 30, the year my first daughter was born.
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.
I’m only familiar with a handful of those records, and I definitely have a preference for his alt-country work, including Heartbreaker and the albums he recorded with The Cardinals.
I’m also a big fan of the more rock-focused Gold, probably his best album.
Playing at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville 12 years ago, Ryan Adams was heckled by a concertgoer repeatedly asking him to play ‘Summer of ’69,’ which is of course a Bryan Adams song.
Pretty much every Ryan Adams song from his mellow, acoustic, alt-country phase is a good listen. They’re not all mind-blowing (though a few are) but you can’t go wrong putting them on in the background while you go about your daily life.
I feel the opposite about his harder-edged albums, which sound more like noise than music. Is it just that he’s really good at the one and not so good at the other? Or maybe it’s just my tastes.