AN OPEN LETTER TO: Ryan Adams

On tour Down Under in Australia, the Cardinals frontman makes a convincing case
for his retirement.

BY
BARBARA MITCHELL

Dear
Ryan Adams –

Fucking
get it over and retire. Go fill your
time writing books or bad poetry or nonsensical blog entries and spare us all.

Yeah,
I know – you’re an easy target and you and your fans expect critics to crucify
you. But here’s the deal – in the
height of the Ryan/Bryan Adams debacle a few years back, I actually defended
you
in one of America’s
snarkiest alt-weeklies. It was the only
time a preview has elicited a rebuttal in said publication and I took a lot of
heat for saying you were capable of being a genius. I stand by that proclamation. And I call for your retirement effective
immediately.

In
some ways, you’re the Seattle Seahawks of alt-country – so much potential, but
always dropping the proverbial ball (or worse – losing the goddamned plot) and
breaking the hearts of your biggest supporters.

At
times, you’ve looked Super Bowl-worthy. I’ve seen you do shows that were
jaw-droppingly awesome: the kind of
performance that most artists would sacrifice small children to create. You
were soulful and self-deprecating and funny and singular. Apparently, your Melbourne show –
Saturday, January 31 – this weekend fell into that category.

So
about last night…

I
walked out on you about 45 minutes into your dimly lit set. I’ve worked in the
music biz for two decades now and if I had actually paid to see you play –
well, let’s just say that no one was actually seeing you play. The sound was
pristine, the band sounded awesome and since I don’t like playing games
(particularly not “spot the lead singer” or “bobbing for
sightlines”), wondering when a brilliant performer was going to do
something more than karaoke, paying for overpriced drinks and wondering if
public transport is going to be operating when the “show” is over
(and I’m sure most attendees will agree that this was more of a “no
show” than a “show”), I made the unprecedented move of going for
late-night vegan snacks (which will shock anyone who familiar with my love of
bacon and/or cheese and particularly music) and I left.

If
I had stayed, you see, someone was going to mistake my catatonic state for
drunkenness or death and I would have been hauled off anyway. Three-quarters of an hour into your set and
you didn’t even address the audience?
Those are the folks who make it possible for you to avoid working a
minimum-wage job and date actresses. The people who root for you when evil
critics like my editor at the Stranger take pot-shots at you.

I
feel betrayed. I trusted you – or at
least your talent. I was excited to see
you play, having been regaled with tales about the first night’s awesome set
and riding high on previous shows I’ve seen you play. I guess I’ve just been
lucky up to now. Like rooting for the Seahawks, I managed to miss most of the
missteps and was blindly expecting the greatness I know you’re capable of
without realizing how much you’re truly addicted to self-sabotage.

I
could’ve stayed and reviewed your show, but why? If you didn’t bother showing up for it, why
should I have stayed and been pummeled into a death-like state of boredom? I’ll let the bloggers (who walked away with
the same frustration I did) have their say.

Are
you done yet? And if you’re going to go
out like this, will anyone care?

[Photo Credit: Mark Abrahams]

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