It’s kind of funny — for the longest time, we heard barely a peep out of Ryan Adams. But now that he’s got a new album out and he’s touring again he’s suddenly all over the place, and since he’s developed a reputation for being a bit, um, prickly over the years (whatever you do, don’t jokingly ask him to play “Summer of 69″), it should hardly come as any surprise when a story about him being a dick emerges. But still, this one took me aback. I mean, storming out of an interview because a reporter asks a question about your marriage is one thing, but acting like a petulant child during a live jam performance with other celebrated musicians is another thing altogether.
Adams’ latest bit of as$holery took place during a taping of the BBC’s Songwriter’s Circle — a popular program that brings together three musicians to perform and discuss their own and each others’ music. On stage with Adams were New Zealand icon Neil Finn and folk singer Janis Ian. After rehearsing for a few hours together and reportedly getting along fine, the trio took the stage where Adams began doing his own thing, most notably refusing to sing backing vocals. His refusal to take part during the encore was particularly baffling to the other performers.
“I’m not sure what his problem was, but he would not sing the part he’d sung so beautifully in rehearsal – in fact, he would not sing at all,” Ian said after the show, adding, “I have to say that in 45 years as a professional performer, I haven’t seen that kind of behavior before.”
Elaborating further, Ian said “Ryan didn’t sing it during the show, and he didn’t sing it when we went back to re-record (specifically so Ryan could sing it this time), Neil finally lost it and asked Ryan in so many words why he couldn’t just sing the song the way we’d rehearsed it.”
She went on to add “I expect a certain amount of narcissism in performers, I don’t expect complete and total self-absorption to the detriment of what was supposed to be three singer/songwriters enjoying each other in a collaborative environment.”
Adams said afterwards that he was upset that Finn and Ian “played over almost every song I played” and that their doing so “nearly derailed” him. Um, HELLO…IT’S A F*CKING JAM SESSION, EMO BOY! That’s what performers do in a jam session — they sing songs together!
Adams also whined that Finn “yelled” at him (“Just play the f*cking song” is what he reportedly said) for not singing backup vocals while not getting angry at Ian for “singing out of tune.” Said Adams, “If you yell at me, I’m not going to be nice back. Certainly not going to play after that.”
Here’s video from the program that shows Adams just kind of sulking on his stool and doing his own thing…
Why does this musician whose music I really like insist on making it so hard for me to like him?! Jesus.