Ryan Adams “Easy Tiger” Lost Highway

Jesse Hill

Imagine the prettiest damn banjo picking you ever heard. And an angelic, toughly vulnerable voice sings:

Blue eyes for miles, pretty as a peach
Glorious, kind and always on time, never far out of reach
Tomorrow’s on its way, there’s always new songs to sing
Glorious, kind and always on time, pearls on a string

I have always heard in Ryan Adams’ songs the idea that life is pain, yet you live for life and you might be surprised at the beauty you’ll find in it as well. I daresay that with more than a handful of songs as perfect as “Pearls on a String,” Easy Tiger is the culmination of this man’s endless search for beauty in a world of pain and dirt, and by culmination I do not mean he’s peaked. I mean only that he has hiked up to a plateau most will only dream of, and I have faith that he will keep on walking this plateau toward the unconquerable finish line that is the horizon. And to bear witness to this march we have been blessed.

But I don’t think Adams would take full credit for this beauty I speak of as it fruits in the music. I would like to say that just as someone who wants to talk to ghosts endlessly sits in front of a Quija board, Adams sits on a studio stool with his guitar around his neck and something (quite like a ghost) uses him as a vessel for this beauty. And, hell, we better give the Cardinals some credit too. And it is in this music and Adams voice that the beauty emerges. The lyrics…

Adams is still aware of his shitty surroundings, and the only real way to cope with that shit is to have a sense of humor about it. Which he does. And of course talking about the beauty you’ve found illegitimizes it; so it is not the lyrics that he places the biggest emphasis on. Because let’s face it lyrics are just words that go together to use the vocal instrument on top of the music, and it’s all been said before. So, Adams, humble, aware and full of humor, delivers most of the lyrics with a grain of salt, even going so far as in the song “Oh My God, Whatever, Etc.” with the final lyrics to the chorus being, “And, oh, oh my God, whatever, etc.”

But just because he knows there’s nothing new under the sun doesn’t mean that he’s bastardizing his amazingly acrobatic voice by singing about bullshit because that voice spills out with conviction, and he’s still got some interesting things to say. Just doesn’t want to be all self-important cause of it. On the single “Two,” Adams says:

Well, my money’s no good when I’m up to no good
No good ever comes from it, honest
I got a really good heart, I just can’t catch a break
If I could I’d treat you like you wanted me too, I promise

…and you get all that shit for the first time all over again. On “Halloween Head,” Adams says, “head full of tricks and treats leads me through the nighttime streets,” at the beginning of the song and screams out, “What the fuck is wrong with me?!” by the end of it, and you don’t have to know anything about Adams past to relate those statements to something in your own life (well, I guess that’s if you’re the kind of people I know.) On “The Sun Also Sets,” he warns us to not get too lost in the morning light when he warns her, “When you get these feelings next time, next time, oh be sure, or you’re gonna tear someone apart.” But it’s what he says on the obviously Neil Young-esque “I Taught Myself How To Grow Old,” that epitomizes Adams view, humor, attitude, and genius when he perfectly sings to audiences in the millions hanging on his (and every other musical idol’s) every word, “Most of the time I got nothing to say, and when I do it’s nothing and no one’s there to listen anyway. I’m probably better off this way.” But sorry, Ry, cause we’re gonna keep listening to those sweet nothings.

Easy Tiger
Easy Tiger


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One Response

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