Is it ok to listen to Ryan Adams again?
My life, everything I know
When I disappear, tell me where it’s gonna go
And who are we to know
So dumb, I watched it as it fell
I saw it on the edge before it even went down
And I watched it break
But it’s still a cage
Even if it’s ok to listen, I’m pretty sure it’s not ok to feel sorry for him. And that’s the central problem with Chris. Ryan Adams has made some of my favorite music of all time, but when I hear him sing about his pain all I can think of it, “You kinda earned that, dude.”
Yes, he was cleared of an FBI investigation on attempting to have sex with a minor. Yes, he denied it. But Phoebe Bridgers was 20 when he was 40 and…That’s quite an age difference. Sure, Mandy Moore has gone on to great success and yes, he’s apologized publicly. But he didn’t apologize privately, to Mandy Moore or Phoebe Bridgers’ faces–as far as I know, at least.
So is it ok to like Chris on its merits? Some of the songs date back to Ryan Adams’ best years–the Prisoner album–and have never been recorded before. It’s tragic Americana-style rock, a genre Adams pioneered with Whiskeytown. It’s good. The music is good.
Is it ok to like it? Is it ok to listen to it?
I understand that the artist may be severable from the art. But I can’t watch Woody Allen any more, or listen to Michael Jackson, or enjoy Louis CK the way I used to. Because art reflects the artists’ choices and beliefs and if I don’t empathize with the artist, I can’t hear them the same way.
Sorry Ryan. I miss your music, but I’m not past your big fuck ups yet. I’m glad you’re sober and I hope you find a way to earn forgiveness and reclaim your spot as a gifted singer/songwriter. Truly. But I’m not there with you yet.