45 Minutes: Ryan Adams (Part 1)

Ryan Adams

Rawkblog historians may remember “Learn to Love,” a short-lived column that attempted to introduce readers — or deepen their knowledge — to the catalogs of my favorite artists. With the advent of legal alternatives such as Spotify, Grooveshark, etc., I’m going to revive the idea with a mixtape series called 45 Minutes. It’s pretty self-explanatory.

We’ll start with misunderstood icon Ryan Adams, whose catalog is so dense and intimidating that I’m breaking the compilation into two parts. After the break-up of seminal alt-country act Whiskeytown, Adams’ songwriting has ranged between heartbreaking folk ballads, ’70s-influenced country-rock and — and this is where he lost the critics, humorless bastards that they are — goofy, great hard rock. The vast majority of his recordings of any sort are worthwhile: this is an introduction, not necessarily a greatest hits. For part 1, I’ve mined the easy stuff: the ballads. Get to the end of this without tears in your eyes and you’ll have my sympathies for your cold, cold heart. Part 2 will focus on the rockers and the twang.

Adams has literally a dozen or so unreleased albums/studio sessions that have made the rounds in pirated, sometimes incomplete form for years. This collection mostly shies away from those, but you can find a primer I wrote on six of the better unreleased sets at the Wall Street Journal.

You can hear a slightly different version of this playlist on Spotify and stream it as God intended below.

I’m taking suggestions on future installments at @daverawkblog and rawkblog AT gmail DOT com. Send requests!