During his live set on MBE this morning, Ryan Adams gifted us with three acoustic songs, a taste of his cover of Fugazi’s “Waiting Room”, shared news of his forthcoming album AND imparted some deep wisdom about music and creativity.
He also asked: Am I Michael McDonald to this generation?
He was kidding somewhat, but it was in regards to a question about music festivals, which he says he finds humbling. Full quote:
“I guess I’m at that interesting phase where sometimes I play and I’m like, ‘Wow people are really digging into this music that I’ve been making for however long.’ And I feel that. I have a lot of energy on stage with my band because we’re sort of like Kiss if they just really sucked and didn’t have any makeup and also maybe just listened to Big Star too much. So, there’s this vibe, you know?
And sometimes that’s great, but once in a while, I’ll be up there and I’ll think to myself, and I mean this respectfully, I’ll go like, ‘Am I like Michael McDonald to this generation or something? Like what is happening right now?’ And those are really new thoughts for me. I guess being present at all is a new thought for me, so it’s just nice to be there doing it.”
And now to the big news, Ryan is working on a new album!
“I don’t think I’ve ever worked on anything harder than I have on it, and I’m still working on it, which is amazing. In fact, when I leave here, I go straight over to work on it more. And I think, probably, it’s the most songs I ever wrote for a record and it’s the most emotional…whatever this process was, was so cathartic, and was cathartic in a way where I actually made songs where I would listen back to what I had to say and go, ‘That is really messed up.’ Or listen to something and go, ‘There’s actual hope in there.’ What does that mean? I really let the process become part of me this time.”
“I’ve really found a way to try to become optimistic and to find ways of writing that can be helpful to myself, and that’s maybe been a huge challenge.”
He promised to preview some new songs at his shows in Cali – Thursday, Aug 4 at Santa Barbara Bowl, Friday, Aug 5 at Greek Theatre and Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival, on Sunday Aug 7.
Also, one last bit of creative wisdom he shared that I loved. He talks about how he became “compulsively creative”, the product of growing up in a small town with nothing to do:
“As soon as I found guitar, one of the things I realized about it is that you can’t master it. There’s always going to be another good or bad idea in it, and there’s no wrong answer in it. That’s the other really beautiful thing about playing guitar, or instruments, or music, is it’s a place to go where there aren’t wrong answers. There are only right answers. There are only expressions. That’s a really good place to be, especially in times like this, you know.”
Hear the full set here and below