David Ryan Adams turned 40 years old this week. He’s one of my favorite singer-songwriters and recording artists. What’s not to like? He writes and performs touching, kickass songs; he’s a novelist and poet; he’s a producer for Jenny Lewis, Willie Nelson, and Fall Out Boy; and he’s married to Mandy Moore. David Letterman is also a huge fan, as Adams has appeared on Late Show numerous times. Here are six essential songs from Ryan Adams’s solo catalogue.
1. “To Be Young”
The opening track on Ryan Adams’ Heartbreaker bursts out of the gate and sets the right mood for his debut record as a solo artist following the breakup of alt-country band Whiskeytown. The song perfectly states everything I love about the singer-songwriter. His music is catchy, smart, and full of sex and drugs. It was released in the year 2000 and it’s perfect rock ‘n roll for a new millennium.
2. “Come Pick Me Up”
Also from Heartbreaker, “Come Pick Me Up” centers on Adams’ knack for writing melancholy pop tunes with catchy melodies and lyrics. It’s a sweet and low down song that hums along and also fills the listener with sadness and heartbreak. It’s one of the best songs about dealing with a nasty breakup and having batsh*t crazy friends to get you through the worst times.
3. “English Girls Approximately”
The song “English Girls Approximately” is best known for being on the soundtrack for the Cameron Crowe film Elizabethtown. While the movie isn’t very good, the song is excellent!
4. “My Wrecking Ball”
“My Wrecking Ball” is from Adams’ new self-titled record , which is probably his best in years. The track’s title sounds like it might be hard-hitting, but it’s actually quite soft and gentle. It’s a sweet song about a relationship falling apart, while also welcoming the long fall of love and loss. It’s definitely a contrast from Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” — Adams’ use of the metaphor is far more tender and sympathetic.
From Adams’ record Easy Tiger, the song “Two” is probably one of the best songs about a one night stand from the alt-country genre. It tells up a great story of meeting someone and wanting to go home with them after a long night of drinking. It’s a gentle song with surprisingly touching lyrics about a random hookup.
6. “Gimme Something Good”
The opening track from Adams’ self-titled record is, indeed, “something good.” It’s a hell of a way to kick off a new record, with an explosive and melodic track. The chorus of “Gimme Something Good” sends chills down my spine, as it denotes a sense of immediacy and urgency. It’s a hard-hitting song that serves as a good b-side to “To Be Young” because it shows a lot of growth from Ryan Adams’ first record to his latest.