Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Ryan Adams and the Cards

It's kind of funny how you have to approach a Ryan Adams show: Expectation (if he's "on," it has to be great), exasperation (I hope he's not freaking out this time), speculation (will this be the last show before he breaks up the band?). So I actually felt sort of relieved when I got to see a full set, he didn't do anything too weird, and his voice sounded fantastic. Success! I thought the best moment was when he broke loose with "Come Pick Me Up," not just because it's one of my favorites, but because it came pretty early and I thought it signaled a wide-ranging affair from his huge catalog. The only disappointment was that there weren't more rockin' songs like Magick thrown in. I totally agree with Jeffrey Lee Puckett's review that all of the songs were the same tempo -- very mellow. I would have liked more energy. But that feels a little nitpicky considering he really did perform well in that purple light. It wasn't as dark as the last time when he hid under the infamous hoodie, but I only saw the silhouette of Ryan. Man of Mystery.

I did have an insight into the mystery, however. When he finally engaged the audience in a little midset chit-chat and the lights came up just a bit, he said something like, okay, you've scared me enough, you can take the lights back down. And I thought, it's not just an act, he really is uncomfortable performing! Performance anxiety -- possibly debilitating? It kind of fits in with the drugs and alcohol, which might have been his way of controlling it, and now all clean and sober, he has do it differently -- practically in the dark, at a safe distance from the audience. See, speculation. Well, it's one theory. I know that he blames inner ear and hearing problems "on the record" as his reason for the rumored abandonment of music for his literary career. Who knows, but it would be a shame if stops recording, hard as that is to imagine.

Levi Stahl

When John Crowley links to anything on his livejournal page I feel compelled to check it out. That's how I found The Whole Five Feet and now, I'vebeenreadinglately, Levi Stahl's blog. Sometimes when I think I read a LOT, I run across someone who puts me to shame. Or maybe it's not so much that I don't read as much, I just don't read as well, as critically, and as deeply as others do. And I certainly don't write as well about reading. Reading the entries in Levi's blog makes me want to hang up my sad little tappety-tap keys and find a Harlequin romance.

His recent post about Penelope Fitzgerald will motivate me to finally read one or more of her novels. She's been on the radar for a long time, but somehow, I've just never got around to her. I just requested several books from the public library, and I will now have a few more to put on the list. Of course, I just started re-reading Crowley's Little, Big.

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