Did you already read 8,000 articles on Ryan Adams' 1989 cover album today? The musician's deep dive into Taylor Swift's latest work has finally been released, and it's just as beautiful as we thought it would be. As Adams has done with pop songs before, he strips them down to their raw beauty so you can lay on the floor and weep as you listen to them, as the music gods intended. Swift actually explained his magic pretty well today during an interview with Beats1:
"The album is absolutely gorgeous. It was conceptualized, not thrown together. My favorite thing... what struck me immediately... they're not cover songs. They're re-imaginings of my songs.You can tell he was in a very different place emotionally when he put his spin on them, than I was when I wrote them, because there's this beautiful, aching sadness in this album that doesn't exist in the original."
it's important to note what is hopefully blatantly obvious: Ryan Adams couldn't work this magic on just any song—Nicole Westbrook's "It's Thanksgiving!", released by the monsters at pop factory ARK Music, would still be a confusing and awful contribution to the universe's music catalog even if Adams added a slide guitar and 4-piece orchestra. Swift gave him not only inspiration through her own versions, but really good bones to work with.
As for how it all came together, which has been a mystery so far, Adams explained its origins:
"I don't know why I had this idea, but this idea had existed since sometime around my birthday of last year. And during that time, I was going through sort of a difficult time in my life. By the time Christmas was rolling around, it was the first real time I was going to be back in Los Angeles... during the holidays... basically alone, on my own. When I get into someone's music, and I've always been interested in Taylor's music... you know, a lot of those songs are pretty flawless. They're so well-written, they're so clean. It's almost impossible to sing that chorus ["White Horse"] and not get a lump in your throat. The only other music that has ever done that for me is like Husker Du or the Smiths... music that really affects me in an emotional way. So the 1989 record comes out... I was hearing all the emotional content in there, becoming curious about it. I got back to LA around Christmas time, I was totally bummed out, I bought a 4-track cassette recorder... and I was like, 'I'm gonna make 1989, like Bruce Springsteen Nebraska style.' I recorded about four songs, and at the time I actually shared on social media that I was doing it, and people were like, 'stop trolling,' or whatever."
Adams goes on to explain that the Tweet started getting traction, and he panicked and deleted it... just as Taylor Swift had RT'd it. Then the 4-track destroyed all the tapes. But here we are, listening to the completed version. Phew.
The full Beats1 interview from this morning, which was Adams' first regarding the album, is here:
And now, a sidenote, and to further display what Adams is able to do... we previously stated that Taylor Swift wrote the worst ever New York City anthem in history, called "Welcome to New York." Her version's production just makes it sound more like a jingle, however, whereas Adams' recreation of it brings out an unexpected beauty. We officially retract our prior statement and offer our apologies to Swift. Here's the version we weren't hearing the first time around:
You'll find the rest of the album tracks below (and you can purchase them all on iTunes as of today). And move over Ryan Adams' "Wonderwall," it's Ryan Adams' "Wildest Dreams":