Archive for the Ryan Adams Category

Friday Notes: Parsons, Adams, & WDVX Birthdays

Posted in Chris Stapleton, Gram Parsons, Ryan Adams, WDVX on November 5, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

*Gram Parsons was born November 5, 1946 in Winter Haven, Florida.  He passed away in September of 1973 following an overdose in Joshua Tree, California.  One year after Parsons’ death, Ryan Adams was born on November 5, 1974 in Jacksonville, North Carolina.

Parsons was one of the most influential artists of the Country Rock movement of the late 60’s and early 70’s thanks to his solo work and his time with The International Submarine Band, The Byrds, and The Flying Burrito Brothers.  Adams was one of the most influential artists of the Country Rock movement of the 90’s and 2000’s thanks to his solo work and his time with the band Whiskeytown.

Parsons called his sound Cosmic American Music.  Adams helped carry the flag for the Alt-Country and Americana labels.

Parsons sounded great singing with Emmylou Harris.  Adams sounded great singing with Emmylou Harris.

Anyone believe in reincarnation?

Gram Parsons: In My Hour of Darkness (Buy Album)
Ryan Adams: Oh My Sweet Carolina (Buy Album)

*Today is also the day we celebrate the birthday of WDVX and thirteen years of bringing great Americana music to Knoxville and East Tennessee.  We’ll be celebrating all day today in our downtown studios at the Knoxville Visitors Center. You can stop by anytime help to us celebrate, pick up your premium item from the Fall Fund Drive, or make a donation to help keep the music going.

The celebration culminates tonight with Ferd’s Friday beginning at 6:00.  Ferd Moyse from the Hackensaw Boys and some of his friends will perform a free concert at the Visitors Center to help us celebrate.  Portions of the performance will be broadcast live on WDVX and WDVX.com.

*Finally, a note for those of you wondering what Chris Stapleton has been up to since leaving The Steeldrivers earlier this year.  Stapleton did an interview with the Houston Press where he talks about his songwriting and his current rock band, The Jompson Brothers.

It’s funny.  I distinctly remember listening to the Hootie and the Blowfish album Cracked Rear View with Chris back in high school.  Now he’s co-writing #1 Country singles with Darius Rucker.

Weekend YouTube: Gram Parsons

Posted in Gram Parsons, Ryan Adams on October 31, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

This coming Friday, November 5, is the birthday of the father of Cosmic American Music… Gram Parsons.  He would have been 64.

Top 10 Americana Albums of the Decade: Honorable Mention

Posted in Hayes Carll, Loretta Lynn, Patty Griffin, Ryan Adams, The Avett Brothers, Top 10 Americana Albums: 2000-2009 on December 5, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

We’ve almost made it all the way to the number one spot on the list of my favorite albums of the past decade. Before we get to that #1 spot, however, I’d like to quickly run through a few albums that just as easily could (should?) have been included on the list instead. Here are five “Honorable Mention” albums listed alphabetically by artist.

First up is Ryan Adams’ 2001 release Gold. It’s very likely that this album would be on the final list if not for the fact that it was mislabeled on my iTunes, and I skipped over it when I was making my preliminary list. By the time I discovered my mistake, the final order was set, and I couldn’t really justify removing any of the other albums to make room for this one.

Still, this is one damn fine album, and one of the first “Americana” albums I was ever given. Lost Highway sent roughly a dozen copies to our station, and our music director loved the album so much he made sure that all the student workers got a copy. I remember it taking me several listens to warm up to the album as a whole, but I was instantly grabbed by tracks like “Firecracker” and “When the Stars Go Blue.” I’m glad I stuck with it.

Ryan Adams: Firecracker (Buy Album)

Next is the Avett Brothers’ 2004 effort Mignonette. The Avett Brothers are another one of those artists I fell in love with at the 2004 Americana Music Association Conference. They played the conference opening party on Thursday night at The Mercy Lounge, and I made a special point to see them again later that week at The Station Inn as well. I had never seen anything quite like them before with their string band sound and punk rock ethos.

I was completely entranced by their live show and found much to love on this album as well. Where the show drew me in with pure energy, the album showed that the band could deftly create those quieter moments as well. This album was the perfect mixture of the bombastic (“Hard Worker,” “Nothing Short of Thankful”) and the sublime (“Swept Away,” “SSS”). This song has a decent dose of both flavors.

Avett Brothers: Please Pardon Yourself (Buy Album)

If I continued to rank things beyond #10, this one might actually be #11. The 2005 release Little Rock was actually the sophomore effort for Hayes, but this is the one that put the Houston born songwriter on the map. It’s full of the same sort of rough edged tunes that have become the calling card of this road worn artist. You can actually feel the road beneath Hayes’ wheels on tunes like “Wish I Hadn’t Stayed So Long,” “Sit in with the Band” and the title track.

Little Rock also holds the distinction of being the first independent release to make it to the number one spot on the Americana Album Airplay chart. Hayes is still one of only two artists (Band of Heathens) to accomplish that feat. We’ve played this album so much at WDVX that it will no longer load in our CD players.

Hayes Carll: Down the Road Tonight (Buy Album)

If I had made a list of favorite artists of the decade, there is no doubt that Patty Griffin would be at or near the top. Her body of work is incredibly strong, and I don’t think there is a finer vocalist working in the business today. What she doesn’t have, however, is that one album that grabs hold of me and keeps me enthralled from start to finish. Her albums in this decade are a little more serene overall than the two she put out in the 1990’s.

All of them except for her unreleased gem Silver Bell from 2000. This album brings the fire on songs like the punkish title track, the churning “Sorry & Sad,” and the rollicking “Boston.” Of course, the quieter moments are here as well in early versions of “Making Pies” and “Top of the World.” There’s also a great, country duet with Emmylou Harris on “Truth #2.” Patty’s label refused to release the album because it wasn’t radio friendly enough. Idiots.

Patty Griffin: Boston (You can’t buy this album, but Patty has tons of other great stuff out there)

The most surprising album of the decade may have been Loretta Lynn’s 2004 release Van Lear Rose. Loretta had been largely absent from the music world for most of the 1990’s and had all but disappeard from the public consciousness. Like many of her contemporaries, she had been rendered mostly irrelevant by the changing aesthetic of popular country radio. That all changed with this album when Loretta teamed with producer Jack White of The White Stripes to blend her classic country sound with his modern rock production.

There is also a certain geographical element that speaks to me on this album. I grew up in the same rural Eastern Kentucky county where Loretta was raised. I spent a good part of my childhood in Van Lear, KY… my babysitter lived there. The song I’m featuring here may be about the West Coast, but I’m always transported back home when I listen to this album.

Loretta Lynn: Portland, Oregon (Buy Album)

Gram Parsons & Ryan Adams: Birthday Post

Posted in Flying Burrito Brothers, Gram Parsons, Ryan Adams, Whiskeytown on November 5, 2009 by AmericanaPulse


Today is the birthday of two of my favorite musicians… Gram Parsons & Ryan Adams.

For more of an in-depth look at the two birthday boys, you can check out last year’s post. For now though, I’d just like to wish a happy 35th birthday to Ryan Adams and a happy would-have-been 63rd birthday to the late Gram Parsons.
Here’s one track featuring Gram with the Flying Burrito Brothers and one featuring Ryan with Whiskeytown.
The Flying Burrito Brothers: Christine’s Tune (Devil in Disguise) (Buy Album)
Whiskeytown: Excuse Me While I Break My Own Heart Tonight (Buy Album)

I Bet You They Won’t Play This Song on the Radio

Posted in Kathleen Edwards, Lucinda Williams, Monty Python, Ryan Adams on November 3, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

Monty Python’s Flying Circus: I Bet You They Won’t Play This Song on the Radio (Buy Album)

I often find myself listening to new music with my “DJ ears.” That is, any time I hear something new, I ask myself if it passes the radio test. Is this really something that I envision myself playing on the air?
Most of the time the answer is obvious. The song is immediately catchy and passes the test, or it inspires the opposite reaction and gets tossed on the scrap pile.
What makes things tough is when a song that passes the test has to be thrown in the scrap heap due to an unfortunate word or phrase that makes the song run afoul of the FCC guidelines for decency. One four letter word can ruin a four minute song for radio play.
I’ve struggled with this for a while now as many of my favorite artists have one (or more) of those songs that would likely get me fined or fired if they ever showed up on my playlist. Luckily, I have a blog now.
Here are three songs that rank among my all-time favorites but have never gotten one single spin on the air. I already wrote about Lucinda Williams’ “Essence” over at Star Maker Machine. “Come Pick Me Up” is my favorite Ryan Adams song, and Kathleen Edwards’ “What Are You Waiting For” contains my single favorite delivery of a naughty word in song.
I’m not particularly proud of what this post says about me as a person… but I hope you enjoy it nonetheless.
Lucinda Williams: Essence (Buy Album)
Ryan Adams: Come Pick Me Up (Buy Album)
Kathleen Edwards: What Are You Waiting For (Buy Album)

Links: Because it’s been a few days

Posted in Buddy and Julie Miller, Patty Griffin, Ryan Adams, Steve Earle on January 19, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

I haven’t had a whole lot of time to write this weekend… so here is some other stuff from around the blogs that you might be interested in.

*Ramblings on Music, Texas, Etc… has some more info on the new Buddy & Julie Miller disc that is coming out March 3rd. If you visit, you can see the Electronic Press Kit for the new album and the album cover (which I have posted above).

Ramblings also has some info about the next Patty Griffin album.

*I am Fuel, You are Friends has the scoop on the next Steve Earle project. Earle’s next album will be a collection of Townes Van Zandt covers. Earle already honored his late friend by naming his son (Justin Townes Earle) after him. Now he honors him again by keeping his music alive.

*You can still vote for your favorite albums of 2008 over at No Depression’s new website. I’ve already sent my vote in.

*What’s going on with Ryan Adams anyway? Is he quitting the music biz or just taking a break? This Mornin’ I am Born Again attempts to answer those questions.

Hopefully, he’s just taking some time off to recapture his muse. Here’s one of my favorite Ryan Adams songs from his solo debut Heartbreaker. This is how Ryan sounds when he’s at his best… someplace I don’t think he’s been for a while. Maybe he just needs a break.

Ryan Adams: Come Pick Me Up (Buy Album)

Happy Birthday: Gram Parsons & Ryan Adams

Posted in Flying Burrito Brothers, Gram Parsons, Ryan Adams, Whiskeytown on November 5, 2008 by AmericanaPulse

Cecil Ingram Connor (Gram Parsons) was born November 5, 1946 into a wealthy family in Winter Haven, Florida and grew up living a very privileged lifestyle. As a nine year old, Gram saw Elvis Presley play a concert in his hometown and decided to become a musician himself.

At the age of twelve, Gram’s father committed suicide. A few years later, his mother remarried, and Cecil Ingram Connor adopted his new step father’s surname… legally changing his name to Gram Parsons.

As a teenager, Parsons continued to pursue his dream of becoming a musician, playing in various bands throughout his high school years. One band, The Legends, also featured future music stars Jim Stafford (“Spiders and Snakes”) and Kent Lavoie (“Me and You and a Dog Named Boo”). After high school, Gram attended Harvard University as a theology student, but dropped out after just one semester that was devoted more to music than studies.

His time at Harvard was not completely wasted, however. It was during his time in the Ivy League that Gram put together the International Submarine Band, the group that would help him solidify his vision of a mixture of country and rock. It was a sound Gram called “Cosmic American Music.” The group spent some time in New York before relocating to Los Angeles to record their debut album Safe at Home in 1967. By the time the album was released in 1968, The International Submarine Band had disbanded and Gram was on to other things.

From there, Gram’s story is well documented. He joined the Byrds in time to serve as a major influence on the sound of their 1968 Americana masterpiece Sweetheart of the Rodeo. He went on to form the Flying Burrito Brothers with Chris Hillman and record two solo albums that introduced the world to Emmylou Harris. He also became close friends with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones and greatly influenced some of the Stones’ country tinged songs such as “Wild Horses” and “Dead Flowers.”

Gram’s prolific output and tremendous influence masked what was becoming a serious addiction to drugs and alcohol. He still had access to a massive trust fund that was amassed through his family’s success in the Florida orange grove business, and he used that trust to support his habits. Keith Richards once said that Gram had better drugs than the Mafia.

Gram’s habits caught up with him on September 19, 1973. On a trip to Joshua Tree National Park in California, Gram overdosed on a mixture of drugs and alcohol. The bizarre story of his death and the strange events that followed it can be found here.

It has been debated over and over as to Gram’s true influence on the country-rock movement of the late 60’s and early 70’s. Some view him as a true pioneer who originated and birthed an entire genre of music. Others see him as merely a piece of the puzzle… a tragic figure whose legend has outgrown his actual influence. Whatever your stance on that debate, his influence on future generations of artists cannot be debated. Many of today’s Americana and Alt-Country artists have publicly stated their love for Gram and his music and cite him as a central influence on their sound.

Which brings us to today’s other birthday boy, Ryan Adams…

Gram Parsons died in 1973. The following year, in 1974, Ryan Adams was born on what would have been Parsons’ 28th birthday. Now… I’m not one who believes in reincarnation or anything like that, but it isn’t hard to believe that at least part of Parsons’ spirit lives on in Adams’ music.

David Ryan Adams was born in Jacksonville, NC in 1974 and formed his first band, the raucous The Patty Duke Syndrome, as a teenager. In 1994, Adams formed Whiskeytown and began cranking out his own brand of Parsons inspired alt-country. Of course, Whiskeytown disbanded in 1999 after a brief and brilliant (if tumultuous) run that produced some very memorable moments. His recent recordings with his current backing band The Cardinals notwithstanding… Adams has been on his own ever since.

If you want to find out more about Ryan Adams, Payton over at This Mornin’ I am Born Again has a tremendous series of spotlight posts about Ryan Adams and Whiskeytown.

Now for today’s music…

I’m going to post a few songs from each artist that I think highlight their styles and similarities. We’ll start with a song called “A Song for You,” a Parsons original that first appeared on his 1972 album G.P. Whiskeytown’s cover comes from the 1999 Gram Parsons tribute album, Return of the Grievous Angel. After that… just a few of my favorites from each artist.

Gram Parsons: A Song for You (song removed by file host)
Whiskeytown: A Song for You (Buy Album)

The Flying Burrito Brothers: Cody Cody (Buy Album)
Ryan Adams & the Cardinals: The Hardest Part (Buy Album)
Gram Parsons: Ooh Las Vegas (Buy Album)
Whiskeytown: Drank Like a River (Buy Album)