10 things you need to know about Ryan Adams and his take on Taylor Swift's 1989
"It sounds like Taylor Swift transported to the world's saddest Indie disco"
Published 22/09/2015 | 14:54
Ryan Adams' greatly anticipated cover of Taylor Swift’s 1989 has just hit the internet. But who is this country-rock enigma – and why would he wish to tackle the repertoire of an unabashed pop star such as Swift?
Here are seven must-knows about a record the entire web is chattering about...
1: It Sounds Like Taylor Swift Transported To The World’s Saddest Indie Disco
Adams is faithful to the basic structure of Swift’s original songs. But he swaddles the music in a yearning alternative country shimmer, so that her single Shake It Off becomes sad, slow and droning and Bad Blood shape-shifts into a chiming Smiths-era dirge.
Shake it Off:
2: The Experimental Stuff Sounds Even Weirder
On the original 1989 Style was a swoonful piece of electro-pop. Here Adams reworks it into a Sonic Youth-esque drone out, with endless layers of reverb and vocals that weave in an out of earshot.
Fantastic, if you’re up for having your brain melted a little.
3: Sometimes It Just Sounds Like A Ryan Adams Record
Adams was going through a separation from his wife Mandy Moore while recording the LP – and some of the tunes here unfold like straight-up broken hearted laments.
His reading of I Wish You Would for instance could be a preview track from his next collection of original songs. It’s hard to imagine it began life as a Taylor Swift show-stopper.
4: Ryan ’n Taylor Worked Together Previously
Swift is a long-time Adams fan - during the recording of her 2012 Red album they actually hung out in the studio. Nothing came of it - but deep bonds of mutual respect were forged.
5: Adams Doesn’t Always Take Criticism Well
In 2002 the singer notoriously ejected a heckler who had sarcastically demanded he cover Bryan Adams' Summer Of ’69 ( refunding the punter his $30 ticket price). He has since mellowed and last April gracefully performed his near name-sake's cheese-ball classic.
6: Adams Has Made A Lot Of Music
Suffering a sort of rock star hyperactivity, Adams has churned out dozens of solo records, band albums and side-projects. Not that he thinks this is something he should apologise for.
"If I want to go and buy a bird house for my garden I don't want to go to a guy who's built like, six birdhouses, because it took him four years to do each one," he told me in 2012 "I'd go a master craftsman who builds birdhouses because they are his passion."
7: He Used To Party – But Not Any More
In his 20s Adams enjoyed living it up. But that was then. Now he’s thoroughly reformed. "I haven't been to bars drinking since the winter of 2005," he said in that same interview. "By 2006 I was sober. I never went to rehab. I never went to meetings. I don't go to AA. I didn't have to go to any kind of treatment. I didn't think about it at all. It was less a part of my life than people make it out to be. To say I went off the rails was ridiculous. I've been sober since the middle of the last decade."
8: Taylor Approves
She hasn’t dragged Adams onstage at one of her gigs yet. Nonetheless she is thoroughly supportive of his covers project, tweeting that hearing Adams’ tilt at 1989 was “surreal and dreamlike”.
9: He Re-recorded 1989 in 10 Days
For a week and a bit, Adams and his crew locked themselves away at his Pax Am studio in Hollywood. They tackled the tracks in their original running order and unwound by playing one of the many vintage pinball machines Adams collects.
10:The Swift record was his way of dealing with Christmas blues
“The holidays are always weird for me,” Adams told the Wall Street Journal. “They remind me of my grandfather and my grandmother, who have both now passed. Who were a huge part of my life. There’s no really going home for me. My personal life had changed pretty dramatically before then. So I was like ‘What am I going to do?’ I really started thinking about ‘1989.’”