Oh, one day when you’re looking back
You were young and man you were sad
Heartbreaker starts with an argument. We already knew that.
What we didn’t know, until now, is that a quick jam of Morrissey’s “Hairdresser on Fire” is what preceded it. These minor details — ignored by others — are fascinating to me, and absolutely make the Deluxe Edition of Heartbreaker a must-have for Ryan Adams fans.
“Everybody play for your lives,” Adams says before a take of another outtake, “Petal in a Rainstorm.” “Let’s just beat the shit out of this thing. Let’s give it a real gas.”
He wrote most of these songs in Jacksonville, but he recorded them in Nashville. Ethan Johns was on his side. So were Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. Still, as we learned earlier this week from a Rolling Stone interview, he felt the odds were long.
“”I was fully humbled and prepared to sort of go, ‘OK, I had my shot and it was over,” Adams confided.
Also in that RS article:
“I had no furniture; I had no clothes; I had a very small amount of things,” Adams says with a laugh. “There were no lamps in the house but one – I didn’t have a shade on it. It had luckily been left there. So I would just plug that in at night so I could see to get into the room I slept in.”
Again, fascinating stuff. And it could explain the lyric from “Oh My Sweet Carolina,” which goes, as you probably know, “sunset’s just my light bulb burning out.”
I lived with these songs for the first time when my life was quickly changing. I was graduating college with no idea what to do. Move back home? Get a job? I had an English degree.
Today, as I listen to these songs again, I’m 36. My vinyl copy of Heartbreaker still has the wrong album on “Side A” (I have no idea what it is — maybe it’s worth a few dollars). I kept it because it’s flawed. The real album is flawed. I don’t think Ryan Adams would have a problem with me writing that.
When I got married in 2005, our song was Adams’ “My Love For You is Real.” Our second choice, if I remember correctly, was “In My Time of Need.” There is a gorgeous outtake of the latter on Heartbreaker Deluxe.
I’m single now, but some things don’t change. When I need a friend, I turn to songs like “Why Do They Leave?” “My Winding Wheel,” “Damn Sam (I Love a Woman That Rains,” and “Come Pick Me Up.”
Now I can also find comfort in “Locked Away,” when Adams sings:
Thank God dreaming’s free
Cause I would spend all my money
Making make believe
This is my Harvest Moon. This is my Blood on the Tracks.
This is the sound of an argument that leads to a broken heart.
When you’re young, you get sad.