Dear Ryan Adams-
You, thankfully, have no idea who I am. I am compelled to come out of hiding and anonymity to let you know how much devotion I have to your work. It all started when I was in high school and I was babysitting. The lady who hired me had all these mix CDs lying around and I was curious. I knew some of the artists jotted across those CD-Rs; Smog, Cracker, Tom Petty. So I threw in a CD to listen to it. Track 1 was Come Pick Me Up. I remember sitting on the couch listening to your voice pour out of that boom box into that dim living room and I was hooked. It stopped me in my tracks. When the harmonica kicked in, it took my breath away and I had to sit down. My homework and picking up alphabet blocks were both forgotten and I just soaked up that tune from start to finish and then hit back so I could do it again.
That moment was more than 10 years ago and as much as it marks when I fell in love with your work, it also marks when I feel head over heels with music. Real music, which is to say ‘good’ music. It was the song that untangled my musical tentacles and let them explore everything and gave me something to hold on to. I managed to get my hands on Heartbreaker, Gold, and Demolition. I fell down the hole, so happily. In college, I got to see you in Indianapolis with the Cardinals and you played a three hour show; best $40 I could have spent my work study money on. I kept snatching up your work whenever I could and I have continued to stockpile your records.
I want you to know that I love your new record as much as I loved Come Pick Me Up when I heard it in high school. I saw you when you played in Portland, Maine last year and I was just as struck by your playing and playfulness as I was when I saw you in college (though this time I got to be right up front). That show was actually before the record came out and driving through the back roads of New Hampshire was when I first heard the recording of My Wrecking Ball and again, was as swept up in the story and melody as I have ever been. I did a task for 2014 where I listened to all of my CDs. I listened to them from start to finish and I wasaq1 not allowed to skip any tracks. Being reexposed to your albums in that fashion has been a great indulgence.
The way you tell a story is gorgeous. You have an understanding of music and melody that is virtuosic. You write words that glimmer on my heartstrings before dripping into the puddles of my heart. I have spent hours of my life with you and you’ve been the soundtrack to events in my life. Not only have I found comfort in your work, I have found new feelings, new words, and new experiences. I’ve been challenged, comforted, and excited by songs, I’ve found my own voice by listening to yours. I’ve had my breath taken away and I’ve had new energy breathed into me. Thank you.
Thank you! I’m so grateful for all of this, these last 13 years. My life is a different version because I found that mix CD in high school. And I’m so glad. I’ve bonded with old friends, shared your music with new ones, and I’ve found new mindsets in life. You’ve dug up old feelings, too. It’s nicer to have them couched in a song instead of a laceration. For all of this, Ryan, I’m so grateful.