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Ryan Adams Has Not Been Mad for 15 Years and That's a Promise

Image via Getty
Image via Getty

Celeb-watchers love Ryan Adams because, unlike most celebrities, he appears to find airing beef publicly much more important than polite silence and that’s refreshing. In the past he has used his twitter account to call out New York Times journalists, but now he’s just taking his call-outs straight to the source.


In a New York Times op-ed, Adams details an occasion in 2002 that maybe you do not remember, but he definitely does, in which a wasted audience member kept screaming dumb requests (a thing people did at rock shows in 2002) until Adams was compelled to find the screamer, leave the stage, and give him a couple of $20s before asking him to leave. All of which is a pretty whatever incident, except Adams was at his first show at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, which, he writes, was a big deal to him. Understandable! But what made it even worse was a pre-troll, pre-clickbait headline that has apparently haunted him for nearly two decades:

I would soon know the worst of it. A journalist in Nashville had taken the facts of that night and written a tale of madness: It said, more or less, “Ryan Adams throws out fan for requesting ‘Summer of ’69.’”

I was now a joke. All of my hard work was lost in a story picked up by The Associated Press. I soon became an attraction for people who wanted to pay money to hurl insults at someone. They wanted to yell that song like it was some magical power that would transform me into a Golem.


I was the arts and music editor at an alt weekly in 2002, and I do not remember this incident nor do any of my coworkers; nevertheless we appreciate Adams for reminding us. More importantly, there’s a cool part of this story, a kind of redemption; he became friends with Bryan Adams and found himself.

But that was the beginning of who I am today. All of the humor and self-deflection I would ever learn came from that night. I am now grateful for it all. I know the nature of people. I know how they will throw insults and rock a boat just to watch a person go over the side. But I know they are not all cruel. Away from the stage lights, I would study others and look for that good.

A beautiful story. It’s gonna be okay.

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Ok, so I went to see him one time in Omaha when I was about 24, and three things stand out to me. 1) I met him in person when I was out wandering around the record tables, and I asked him about falling off the stage and breaking his wrist, which was probably rude to mention 2) he threw his guitar into the crowd, and in the mad scramble for fans to get it, all of a sudden a girl started screaming bloody murder, so he jumped down into the audience...turns out one of the guitar strings had gotten caught on her belly ring, and people yanking at the guitar almost tore it out and 3) he let the audience shout out requests and I was thrilled when he took mine (“Sylvia Plath”), but then he didn’t even know the words.

I met him again years later in NYC (he briefly dated a friend of mine) and never mentioned any of those things. (Also, he was a very nice person.)