Recommended: Ryan Adams’ Entire Catalogue

Above: Singer-songwriter Ryan Adams
Above: Singer-songwriter Ryan Adams

When I first heard that Ryan Adams was going to a track-by-track cover of Taylor Swift’s killer album 1989, I had a couple immediate thoughts:

  1. That’s so very Ryan Adams.
  2. This could either be a complete trainwreck or an absolute masterpiece.
  3. There are going to be a legion of people that have never heard of Adams wondering why this dude thinks he can get famous of Swift’s name.

While this collection of covers is obviously getting the most attention, it’s not the first time Adams has aped someone else’s tunes. He does it all the time and in a lot of cases, they’re as good, if not better, than the originals. He’s such a prolific coverer of classics that The Concourse put together a list of great covers he’s done and I listened to the entire thing while writing this article, which made the process a lot longer than compiling a piece like this normally would take, but I’m not complaining because goddamn Ryan Adams is awesome.

That last revelation isn’t something I came to this weekend. I’ve been a fan since Blender (remember Blender?) sang the praises of his 2001 album, Gold, which yielded tracks like “New York, New York” (embedded below) and “When the Stars Go Blue,” which was covered by Tim McGraw (and several others), though Adams’ version is still the best.

Finding and loving that album sent me on a deep dive into Adams’ previous work with Whiskeytown and made me a life-long fan. There are a ton of albums and songs to comb back through because he’s crazy prolific, but for a snapshot of everything that’s great about the 40-year-old musician, tossing on Gold and letting it play all the way through wouldn’t be a bad place to start.

As the snippets of songs from this 1989 cover started coming out, it was clear that this was going to be (a) fun to listen to once it was complete and (b) a really interesting experience as young people tried to figure out who he was and why he thought he could cover Taylor Swift.

It’s like when Kanye and Rihanna discovered that Paul McCartney dude and Katy Perry gave newcomer Missy Elliott a chance to perform at the Super Bowl last year.

Now that the whole collection is out, it’s bonkers. Seriously. It’s so good. Like as much fun as Swift’s original is – and it’s terrific pop music – Adams flips them on their head and makes them gems in a whole different way.

So now that the man has got your attention, do yourself a favour: go dive into his expansive catalogue.

He moves through so many different genres and styles that there is bound to be something you like, even if it’s just a song or two, but who knows – this may be your introduction to an artist that you enjoy and follow for the rest of your days, like Gold was for me way back when.

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte is a freelance journalist based in Abbotsford, British Columbia, where he lives with his wife and dog. In addition to his work here, he writes about sports for Complex Canada and covers the UFC for various outlets. His mom also still tells him what to do on a regular basis, even though he’s nearly 40. He tweets from @spencerkyte.

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