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We Still Heart Ryan Adams

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Halloweenheads (H-heads), or Ryan Adams’ and the Cardinals devotees, are always eagerly awaiting the, oh, say, about five albums Adams delivers a year (because he and his Cardinals are just that damn talented).

Of course this number is exaggerated, at least in the case of the ‘08, but believe us, if you have ever read his now disabled and currently blank Foggy (a place where he “fickle-blogged” nearly daily), you would know of his love of journals (which we imagine feature full pages of material just waiting to fill those five albums) and, we suppose, his love of making up words just like the aforementioned “fickle-blog(ed).” You might also be familiar with the words we use throughout the below, previously published column, all derived from Adams’ long gone dot-com dictionary of Cardinal-Speak (words and sayings us H-heads term Cardinology, or the science of all things good and Ryan).

So, of course, we weren’t too surprised to discover that the latest MFCs (Mother-Fuckin-Cardinals) album, released October 28, had been dubbed Cardinology. It was really only a matter of time before Ryan and his red birds became lessons to be learned — and we’re busy learning, or shall we say, listening. Cardinology is getting the honor of the full-month treatment (30 days of the Card-way) in the Bell soundsystem, meaning we plan to watch that record play till November 28. It’s magick (purposely spelled wrong, or perhaps, spelled Ryan-right), after all. In fact, we recommend that all the non-H-Headers go out, pick up a copy and get schooled. For now, enjoy our below review of Ryan Adams and The Cardinals’ Bridges Auditorium show (the prom that went down on January 22, 2008).

Note to Ryan: We’ve noticed you’ve been a natural ghost at the Cardinal Cave (the MFC blog) of late, and we just want to say boo, boo, boo, to all those haters and re-bloggers (who apparently have been criticizing Ryan’s blogging habits, or at least that was the word at the Cave, as the posts have since been removed). Needless to say, these re-blogging haters obviously have not been doing their Cards homework and have failed the fan test in our eyes. So, go easy on yourself, Ryan. We, and if we may speak on behalf of H-heads everywhere for a moment, HEART you still and are anxiously awaiting your Foggy or Cardinal Cave comeback. Oh snap, and the arrival of four more albums?

Love and all the things that go with being Ryan fans, we suppose,

Bells Toll on Rock & Roll — We  HEART Ryan

The following words were written for Ryan Adams and H-heads everywhere. These are letters — confessions? — to each from the seventh row of Ryan's show at Claremont's Bridges Auditorium, penned by yours truly, the Sister's Bell . . .

Dear Ryan,
Well, we finally got the time, so we're sitting down to write you a letter. After worshipping your golden hand (yep, you've got the Midas touch) we can now cross that Penny Lane fantasy off our lengthy list of rock-dos-and-don'ts. Do view Ryan from seventh row center, if not stage left. Do lose voices from loud woo-hooing-bouts-of-Ryan-joy (when we say l-u-v, you better believe us, L-U-V). Don't smash-dance in aisle, blocking the collective H-head view while repeat-requesting "Come Pick Me Up" — some know nothing of concert etiquette and these people are called rubberneckers, according to your dotcom dictionary.

That's right, we caught the prom at Claremont's Bridges Auditorium last Tuesday and have to say the whole she-bang was a real ryder (C-speak: class gig). Not too many things can put a damper on a night with your Cardinals, and, if those walls in Bridges could talk, we wonder to ourselves if they'd be too choked up—with tears of gold, of course. 'Cause — oh our souls — you were just that good. And there it is.

Two hearts,
Your sweet lil' gals

Dear H-heads,

So when all the lights turned after burn, exposing five Cardinals and a backdrop straight from Cold Roses' liner notes, we knew this was it — Ryan-time. Hallelujah, mockingbirds sing. We'd counted the seconds-till-him for nearly thirty days (2,592,000 ticks) and, after settling his Red Bull and ashtray, he finally spooned us a much-needed dose of Jacksonville city nights and it went down like sweet rock 'n' roll elixir. He was chesty and chatty but still full-force, bending-backwards with the right notes on opener "Goodnight Rose."

Perhaps the master of hard times is done with all those nerve-riddled games; at least there were none that night, no dancing in a coma of recently consumed drinks, no facing the band-boys rather than fan-boys — though he did sing "Games " and was quick with the self-deprecating banter, always feeling the need to rescue us from feeling his blues. We H-heads know plenty of Ryan's songwriting tendencies, and it's just fine that all ditties are drawn in the color of the blues — real songs from real Jacksonville people are always appreciated. Still, ever conscientious, he'd even chopped his bangs to stare-down his own stage fright. He's 33 now and, apparently, getting too old for such neurosis. As rumor has it, he's all Cardinals-business from here on in.

Anyway, Ryan jukeboxed things up with a set list covering most album-sides, performing smoothed-out, molasses-slow takes of heavy-strange tunes like "Halloweenhead" (aptly dedicated to Michelle Williams) on a brightly-speckled piano, and "Cold Roses," "Easy Plateau" and "Peaceful Valley" in much the same way. He even crooned "This House is Not for Sale" with an intensity that belied chestiness — a favorite only topped by "In My Time of Need," sung like a drag from one of several chain-smoked American Spirits. We built a wishing-well with hopes for more Cold Roses and Rock 'n' Roll dimes, maybe the "Down in a Hole" remake, but were reasonably pleased with the musical outcome.

Despite being sick, our faithful leader shredded.

We've definitely, maybe, placed them on a pedestal but, listen H-heads, nothing googled (C-speak: messed with) the Cardinals' sound; Ryan strummed along on his Barbara Gordon guitar, a.k.a. his Oracle, gripping that microphone and conducting the birds through songs executed a million times quicker than usual. It was a soul-kissing experience. But these two hearts were taken at the beginning of the night, when Ryan said he sat unnoticed, somewhere among arriving fans in an anticipatory pre-show haze, just sight-seeing (his favorite part is before it starts, too). Afterward, when Ryan's set was all said and done, we stood in line to get autographs, but got shunned in the H-head mob. We're looking forward to the Ming Dynasty (C-speak: when the shit hits the fan, not the fans).

Word to our people,
H-head²

Dearest Ryan,

It's your sweet lil' gals again. Eddie Vedder's words, "worship the music, not the artist" have been stuck-fast in our H-heads since the prom ended. See, we left without shaking your Midas hand — minus an autograph or even a burning photograph — but at least the music is always ours to keep when you're gone. We guess these girls are better off in your head, and you're better off in their CD player. Till next prom, we're building another wishing-well — hoping you lose the chestiness (all that money buys you medicine but not time, as you'd say). Oh, snap — and maybe that box set?

Take it easy, tiger.

Published in IE Weekly, January 31, 2008.

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