Normally, our Encore features consist solely of hypotheticals. It would be awesome if X would play Y. I hope one day X plays Nausea again. They create forums for us, fans of the artists, to break out what we would like to hear given the choice. Maybe a song that hasnt been played live in years. Sometimes a song that hasnt been played live ever. They are let loose into the pop-culture ether, with hopes that the wished-upon songs will reach the artists subconscious and shimmy their way into an upcoming setlist.
However, when referring to the [insert every synonym for prolific here, or just say prolific] Ryan Adams, there is a greater chance that this artist may actually read this article and lend us his ear. Adams has referenced various articles in print media on his Facebook page over the past couple of months, including a review from our own Dan Caffrey. So, Mr. Adams, if you are indeed reading this, know that we look forward to the rest of your tour and are thrilled to see your older songs coupled with those from Ashes & Fire. The fact that youve included selections from your Whiskeytown era makes us happy to no end.
The following is just a wish in the form of 10 songs wed love to hear you play again sometime during your solo outings. Just wait until youve got a full band backing you again. Well have a whole new list to lay at your feet!
10. The Evil That Men Do (Iron Maiden cover)
Okay, so we start off with a cover. It will be the only one, I promise! Weve seen what Adams can do with Iron Maidens Wasted Years. This track, from Maidens Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, would melt faces in spite of finding itself broken down to its bare essentials by a tender voice and acoustic guitar.
9. Wild Flowers
One of the best from Gold. Already acoustic, it’s a curious omission from recent setlists. An English professor told me there is a difference between prose coming off as simple versus simplistic, with the latter a damnable offense. This particular track is certainly the former, with often spiteful lyrics hidden by the beautiful undercurrent of the aforementioned acoustic guitar. Thanks, Professor… forgot his name but not the lesson. Thats whats important, right?
8. Hard Way to Fall
A heartbreaking song from the fantastic Jacksonville City Nights. The line I could find her in a thunderstorm just by the way that the rain would fall is one of the greatest lines from any song in the history of ever. Shocked to discover Adams hadnt played this particular song during this solo tour, but hopefully that changes at some point. Its a corker of a lovelorn ballad.
7. Chin Up Cheer Up
A fine selection from Demolition, which features selections from various, unreleased albums. It’s a terrific pick-me-up number to play halfway through the set, and it’s sure to send thousands of fans into fits of offbeat hand clapping, during which Adams will stop the song to make a colorful comment about the poor rhythm keeping. The audience laughs and continues to clap when Adams closes it out. Could be fun, right?
6. Elizabeth You Were Born to Play the Part
When you hear the story behind this particular song, you cant help but feel a wave of emotions wash over you. The story goes the song was written for a friend of Adams whose child was stillborn. I cant imagine it being easy to play on a nightly basis, and perhaps thats why he hasnt played it during his most recent string of dates. Whatever the reason, the song is Adams at his strongest, vocally. And that breakdown at the end doesnt hurt the songs status, either.
5. Call Me on Your Way Back Home
Adams has been (gratefully) playing the hell out of Heartbreaker but has only played this particular song a couple of times thus far into the tour. Its one of the albums essential tracks, and arguably its most hopeless moment appears here (I just wanna die without you/Without you/Honey, I aint nothin new). It cant be too depressing for a concert.
4. Bar Lights
Substitute Caitlin Carys sublime violin with a harmonica, and Pneumonias closer could work wonders in a solo setting. A decade later, we can finally hear the track end the way it was meant to be, without the broken-string incident that takes place during its studio recording. Adams could close the set with this, for Gods sake, if not play it as the final song in an encore. This song is a wonderful reminder of how great Whiskeytown was.
A song that has a memorable finish (when the drums, electric guitar, piano, and strings meet each other) can still be powerful sans any additional instruments. One can picture those first three notes played on the piano, followed by a number of people acknowledging one another with looks that state: Yep. Hes doing it. Consequence of Sound‘s own Dan Caffrey says it best: Shadowlands would fill the tours cavernous, acoustically sound venues with haunting piano and choked vocals.
2. Meadowlake Street
A soft-spoken, softly played opening that builds and builds up to its state of love-lost confusion. In a perfect world, Adams could just pop up around the world and play Cold Roses in its entirety, and while hes played If I Am a Stranger on several occasions, it sure would be nice to hear this stunner. And, hey, sometimes, I get a bit emotional during its coda. Here is my man card (lays said card on table and goes off to cry to Meadowlake Street again).
1. Anybody Wanna Take Me Home
Its only been eight years, but can we already consider this a forgotten classic? The album its from, Rock n Roll, may have been written as a fuck you to his record label, but this track and others come direct from The Smiths and Replacements Handbook. By removing the jangling guitars, the song becomes something different — a track that fits in comfortably with the other songs played on the tour thus far. The just like magic bit at the end could induce goosebumps from the dearly devoted.