Ryan Adams has announced the latest single in his prolific 7″ series. “Blue Light” will be backed by “On My Life” and “I Lost My Mind” and will be available at the end of March. The announcement comes in the context of a letter Adams posted from Ireland. Each song gets a lengthy backstory, and there are digressions involving Back To The Future, smartphones, sports jerseys, the Strokes, Chris Farley, and why a certain ’80s aesthetic turns Adams into a cowboy. Read the whole thing; it’s great!
“Sometimes that LA sun burns right into your soul and deadens it in the most fantastic way. The night is hot and dehydrating. It doesn’t ever last long enough and everything is so over-illuminated that you forget what the fog is. Until once or a twice or year. Round midnight. Then you remember where you are. A summertime land where just around the corner things like weather and madness ride the seasons like seeds on the wind.
Sometimes we crawl into PaxAm and there really is nothing left to do. Nobody is stuck. Electricity and instruments. Low light. Orange Light. There are no notes waiting to be transcribed into song — there are not half-written jams to try and figure out what is what… there is just riff optimism and whatever a person couldn’t shake when they went to take out the trash that morning. Maybe something you overheard a couple arguing about across the wooden aisles of the Soul records section at Amoeba… you find the guitar in your hand faster than you would care to if it was how you explained all that to yourself. I am that guy. My pals seem to be that too. If we were into sports we would be the kind of person who wears a “newly laundered” jersey to a nice dinner. That sort of thing.
This session is a bit of that up there but also some songs that were and still are part of this tear — this, like, “I am living in the 80’s but not in a collective way” tear I am on, musically maybe… like in a way where musically and emotionally I let myself go into some soundspace…an imagined reality of not trying to be good at anything with an 80’s feel… but just a free place… a place to be loose in a way where you aren’t trying to change the world. I don’t want to change the world. I just want to tell you a story. Usually about how I feel.
That 80’s sound.. what is that with me… it never realizes itself in a full record — well maybe Love Is Hell but really not even Love is Hell could handle a whole record of that — it steers into other things plenty, stylistically — but that sound is REAL with me and I am ALWAYS able to tell a better story that way. Or usually. Or never. It depends who you ask. But that STYLE, man… as musicians, we can all act a hell of a lot more like a cowboy if someone puts us on the ranch and gives us some horse to ride into some sunset… Juno synths and my electric guitar pushed with delay just sort of creates the cowboy. The cowboy that just got out of seeing Back To The Future. Again. You see.. it’s best to strip it away like that — back to an acoustic guitar and a Linn Drum beat — there’s a safety to how open and raw it is. I forget where I am and I tell a new story. As a songwriter that is a requirement from time to time. So there’s that here. “On My Life,” by the way, is a survivor from the bizarre, necessary and life-changing-in-the-best-way “Alien USA” sessions.
“Blue Light”… This tune was a guitar bass idea I had and I could NOT stop this. It all went down in an hour — band playing live to tape. Musically, this is such a cousin to “The Door” from Blackhole (One day you will understand what that means — think Love is Hell/ More Mats) Lyrically — that bleakness…I had this vision of New York City this guy in a busted pair of glasses walking between subway cars…people texting each other glued to their information machines. I fucking know I get lost in that shit. Our faces “are like ghosts,” my friend Paul Cutler said “when they are underlit by their phones.” Like we all become Bela Legosi lit — but uncool. No cape. No Dracula. Pretty sure I borrowed Jeremy Stacey from the Benmont Tench session when we recorded this. Like he literally was on that session but I think he was net door with Glyn Johns while they were doing some overdubs. Lucky lucky. This was before PaxAm had the weird cat-print baffles. We had to work the ribbon mics extra hard and there was a lot of bleed but it worked.
“On My Life”… well — that’s a portrait of me maybe back in the early 2000’s on 2nd Avenue and A, having lived in a hotel that was once a children’s hospital for basically children with polio (ugh). I am CERTAIN it was haunted but by a sadness really that I cannot explain. Chris Farley died in that building. It has a heaviness that could swallow you. Windows too big to every fully close. Just the worst. Had some fun there though, those were the days that weren’t New York was alive and crazy with that buzz of the Stokes and the easy village in general was basically frozen in time from godknowswhat every single day … It’s fun while you break it. But then you break it.
“I Lost My Mind” is me on everything I think — a riff from a batch of good ones… the basic guitar part had been a riff for a long time that I was carving out on my Stratocaster, the old one, every time I picked up the guitar and I just decided to unleash some Cure vibes in the studio one night… Well it turns out CREED ain’t the only band me and Charlie have in common from back in the day… we also have The Cure (esp Disintegration)… Guess that was both out real high school shit I (among other actual record store snob respected bands… dont get me started people ) also that’s the one and only Daniel Clarke of Richmond fucking Virginia playing me out, like the cosmic Keyboard cat that he is on this tune. I think he had to literally mail the part to us. Remember the fucking mail? Woah! Mike is on here — Charlie is on here… There’s nothing but 7-11 grease on this one, ladies and gentlemen. Shined up with the funk. Maybe a little dash of the creeps on the side too. We over-season to taste and then paint-strip the thing. That’s why you build a studio. To go deep.
ALL Studer 24-Track, ALL 2 inch tape- ALL pretty much on robots they made that only used to do ONE THING AT A TIME…. get that low harmonic sonic blast of actual bass frequencies on you. Bound to make ya smile a real one : )”
Peace and Love…
DRA March 5 2015- From the Emerald Isle
The “Blue Light” 7″ is out 3/31 on Pax-Am. Pre-order it here.