Ryan Adams | 10 Songs, 10 Stories

Photo by Jason Gonulsen

The photo above was taken in 2002 at the inaugural Austin City Limits Music Festival. Looking back, it’s probably the photo the sparked my interest in photography, because it captures a memory for me; it tells a story.

Ryan Adams, who will be in St. Louis tonight at The Peabody Opera House (purchase tickets here), is a master storyteller, one that has left a huge mark on my life with his words.

I hope you enjoy these stories/songs. You can listen to each song individually, or subscribe to the playlist on Spotify here.

Hope to see you tonight!


Now I got a bone to pick with you
and I’m sure you know it’s true

In December of 2001, I drove to Columbia, Missouri with my friend, Anthony, to see Ryan Adams for the first time. He was playing a free show at The Blue Note, which turned out to be something like a three-hour show. We got to the venue around 3 PM and started the line to get in the doors (yes, this was back in those days). I remember on the way over, we blasted “To Be Young” over and over again. We would return to St. Louis at something like 4 AM the next morning. Oh, to be young.


I can still hear you laughing
Coming up the rickety stairs
Laughing as the spring time
Filled your lungs with air

Many songs that I love have great imagery, and “Sink Ships” is no exception. The first house I owned had these rickety stairs leading down to a damp, dark basement. Stairs that had no business standing. I wonder if they still are.


Can you recommend an education or drugs
Because I am bored with you already

On a lonely drive to my hometown of Springfield, Illinois in the fall of 2010, I blasted this song the entire drive there. I know all the words now because of this, and I remember screaming, “But I’ll disappear just like magic!!!” with the windows rolled down, cornfields flying by, my life a complete mess. What would we do without music?


Days come and gone
and it’s been said and been done
I will shelter you with my love
and my forgiveness

I can’t listen to this song anymore because it means too much to me. And if you love music like I do, maybe that will make sense to you. Do you believe in love?


And I hold you close in the back of my mind
Feels so good but damn it makes me hurt

My sister and I drove to Indianapolis for Farm Aid in September of 2001, and I received Gold in the mail the day prior. Of course, we played the hell out of this album on our trip, and our immediate favorites were “Firecracker,” “New York, New York,” and this song, which, as you probably agree, is devastatingly gorgeous. “Oh the night here it comes again…”


And when you’re good to me
It makes me blue
Because someday it’s gonna end

I once had a bootleg of this song (which was once called “For Beth”), and during a trip to San Diego in the spring of 2002, I would listen to it via my Sony Discman (!), strolling along a beach, watching the waves. It would later be called “Friends” and appear on Cold Roses.


Just three words my love
You meant everything

I remember painting the walls of my last house with my ex-girlfriend, and we loved to listen to this one. I think it’s because it’s easy to sing to, and we loved to sing together. I remember her asking, “what’s he saying there?” And I said, “I was just about to tell you, but okay, alright.” Ha.


Let it ride
Let it roll
Let it go

I love solo road trips, and I always think about my drive to Bonnaroo in the summer of 2010. I was going through so many changes, so I figured it would be good to do something that allowed me to be free for a few days. And when I reached the Cumberland River, I blasted this one. “Let it ride easy down the road…”


True love ain’t that hard to find
Not that either one of us will ever know

When I couldn’t sleep for a few months in late 2012, I used to listen to this song in the wee hours, lying on the hardwood floor. I love lying on the floor while music is playing. Especially at 3 AM.


You know you could
I wish you would

Two things: A) Because my friend, Matt, and I witnessed this (NOT TOO GOOD, NOT TOO GOOD!!) and B) Because Peri and Mitch made me that mix tape in 2001, and this led off Side B. “So when you’re walking downtown, do you wish I was there, do you wish it was me?”

Ryan Adams at the Peabody Opera House // TONIGHT, Sunday, October 19th, w/ Butch Walker // 8 PM // Tickets available here

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