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Lemme Get an Encore: Ryan Adams

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ryan adams oxford Lemme Get an Encore: Ryan Adams

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 hasn’t been played live in years. Sometimes a song that hasn’t 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 you’ve included selections from your Whiskeytown era makes us happy to no end.

The following is just a wish in the form of 10 songs we’d love to hear you play again sometime during your solo outings. Just wait until you’ve got a full band backing you again. We’ll 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! We’ve seen what Adams can do with Iron Maiden’s “Wasted Years”. This track, from Maiden’s 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. That’s what’s 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 hadn’t played this particular song during this solo tour, but hopefully that changes at some point. It’s 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 can’t 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 can’t imagine it being easy to play on a nightly basis, and perhaps that’s why he hasn’t 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 doesn’t hurt the song’s 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. It’s one of the album’s essential tracks, and arguably its most hopeless moment appears here (“I just wanna die without you/Without you/Honey, I ain’t nothin’ new”). It can’t be too depressing for a concert.

4. “Bar Lights”

Substitute Caitlin Cary’s sublime violin with a harmonica, and Pneumonia’s 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 God’s sake, if not play it as the final song in an encore. This song is a wonderful reminder of how great Whiskeytown was.

3. “Shadowlands”

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. He’s doing it.” Consequence of Sound‘s own Dan Caffrey says it best: “‘Shadowlands’ would fill the tour’s 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 he’s 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”

It’s only been eight years, but can we already consider this a forgotten classic? The album it’s 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.

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