“Happy Anniversary to this awesome chapter in my life,” Ryan Adams wrote in a hearty Instagram message raising a toast to his 2001 album Gold.
To this he added with sombre warmth, “And to that kid that made this, that wild ass, determined, stubborn kid, if I could reach back in time far enough I would give him the biggest hug he ever had. He wouldn’t know how bad he was gonna need that.”
You can’t go into a hipster bar in Melbourne without there being Loretta Lynn or Gram Parsons on and Ryan Adams, I think, was one of the great bridges.Chris Taylor
Adams was once renowned for substance abuse, rock star antics and diva behaviour during his live shows. No doubt this was partly the product of the constant grind and expectations that come with fame, but they all played out very publicly at this time for Adams.
Broadcaster Chris Taylor, who was hosting triple j’s Drive show in 2005, got to interview Ryan Adams side of stage before his set at Splendour In The Grass. As a fan of the man’s music he was hugely disappointed with the outcome.
“It was one of the worst interviews I ever did,” Taylor tells Double J. “He was in a bad place during that tour.
"He, by all accounts was in the midst of his addictions and all that kind of thing, and the last thing he wanted to do before going on stage was an interview with some knob from a radio station he’d never heard of.
“He was prickly. He didn’t want to be there. His head was in four different places and it was that classic thing of you should never interview your idols.
"I didn’t come away with a wonderful sense of the man and then he went on to do that gig, which was really brattish.
“But then you go back to the music and you go ‘as long as I never have to speak to him or meet him, I’ll be fine.’”
The healing powers of Ryan Adams’ music certainly worked its magic on Chris. On a recent holiday in the US, he road tripped to the Wild West and back through California and had Gold on high rotation in the car.
“I know it’s sort of a cliché, but to have a song like ‘Goodbye Hollywood Boulevard’ on while you’re driving down Hollywood Boulevard is such a cool thing to do.
“So much of American music proudly references place names in a way that Australian music really doesn’t, there’s not really a song called ‘Goodnight George St’ or ‘Goodnight Bourke Street Mall’. We kind of cringe if there was, but Americans think nothing of writing a song called ‘Goodnight Hollywood Boulevard’.
"So, when you’re on that place that you’ve grown up with and given iconic status to that it probably doesn’t deserve, it is just a street. But then you hear Ryan’s song and you think ‘Wow, these are the places that have inspired a lot of the music that I’ve grown up loving.’”
“There’s a lot of that real blues tradition and country tradition and he’s been one of several people who’ve taken it out of the south and into the mainstream.
“I’m old enough to remember when ‘country’ was a dirty word, you used to laugh at people who listened to country music. Now it’s really cool. You can’t go into a hipster bar in Melbourne without there being Loretta Lynn or Gram Parsons on and Ryan Adams, I think, was one of the great bridges. And Gold, more than any other album, introduced a lot of this type of music to the young kids of the day who might not have come to it on their own.”
His prolific output and restlessness as an artist is well known now, but when Gold came out in 2001 Ryan Adams was still a new talent. Chris Taylor remembers having a sense that this second release would be Adams’ great artistic highpoint.
“His ‘big statement by an important emerging artist’ that we might not get the likes of again,” he says.
But listening to Gold in 2016 – enjoying the influence of The Rolling Stones, Elton John, Motown and the blues, as well as what he’s injected of himself into this collection of songs – reaffirms to Taylor Adams’ abundance of creativity.
With a new album due very soon with influences ranging from AC/DC to ELO, and Springsteen to The Smiths, Ryan Adams is again making good on that promise, and still every bit the true music fan that we all heard ring out so clearly over the collection of songs on Gold.