Ryan Adams has a history of improvising ridiculous songs about things that happen at his shows, and because he’s an incredibly talented guy, these joke songs usually turn out to be surprisingly good pieces of music. He’s played a song about an audience member’s balloons and sung a tender ballad about a loaf of broad, and during his solo performance at Neil Young’s Bridge School Benefit concert last night, he improvised an extremely dramatic song about a shirtless guy in the crowd. It’s less of a real song than some of his previous off-the-cuff ditties, but it is pretty amusing, and you can watch it below.
The debut of "no shirt" by Ryan Adams https://t.co/aGatXVrMfl
— Jim Harrington (@jimthecritic) October 25, 2015
Adams also recently chatted with The Guardian about his much-ballyhooed cover of Taylor Swift’s 1989. He’s already made it clear that he’s a genuine fan and that the project was something sincere and not some ironic bullshit, but he continues to praise Swift here, telling the interviewer that “White Horse,” from 2008’s Fearless, was the first song of hers that moved him:
The first time I heard it I got chills head to toe. I remember feeling shocked by her voice, shocked at how clean that song was. I like stuff that sort of penetrates through my regular consciousness and hits me where I’m not looking. That’s usually stuff that’s a little darker…You know, that song is really about disillusionment on such a grand scale. I just thought about how this is hitting me like a tidal wave, it’s so romantic and so beautiful, and yet so sad and so disillusioned — it’s all the stuff I love about the Smiths. That song fucked me up and I couldn’t believe it. Her voice does this thing. It just goes through all my bullshit detectors and right into my heart and soul.
He also compares Swift to both Shakespeare and Neil Armstrong. According to Adams, covering her songs was like “being in Ghostbusters or something, and then all of a sudden I have to go do Shakespeare…Some of us just go up and we work on the satellites, we do some space walks and we go back to Earth. Then there’s the Neil Armstrongs — those folks that go to the moon. They’re awesome. I’m just a dude who works on the satellites. And I’m happy with that. At least I get to go to space.”
UPDATE: As Pitchfork points out, footage has also emerged of Neil Young performing “One Of These Days” with his wife Pegi, St. Vincent, Gary Clark, Jr., Sheryl Crow, and the Dixie Chicks. Watch that below.