Ryan Adams Covers Danzig’s ‘Mother’

You know how awesome it is to go to a show by an artist you love and then he or she performs a cover of another awesome song that you love, and not only is it is a major surprise but it’s also an awesome, original cover? That happened to me once—when Cat Power played a bizarre, barely recognizable version of Fleetwood Mac’s "Dreams"—and I can only imagine what my face would have looked like had I been at Ryan Adams’s recent show in Paris earlier this month where he played the classic song by Misfits founder Glenn Danzig. Listen to the tune after the jump.

The best part? The two randos in the audience who realize what song he’s singing almost immediately and both mutter, "Whoa."

[Via Stereogum]

That is a great version and all (albeit a little too folksy for a Danzig tune), and I love me some Ryan Adams, but I’m partial to Baltimore natives Wye Oak’s version much better.

’30 Rock’ Auditions Ryan Adams, Childish Gambino & Michael McDonald for Super Bowl Performance

This year’s Super Bowl halftime show, featuring Madonna, M.I.A., and Nicki Minaj, is pretty good compared to the usual classic rock dinosaur they trot out on the stage. But God forbid, what if they were suddenly unable to perform thanks to a hamstring injury or lightning strike? This 30 Rock animated short dares to ask that question, with a cartoon Jack Donaghy gathering three singers to audition for the hypothetically vacant show. Rather amusingly, he invites alt-country balladeer Ryan Adams, rapper/comedy star Childish Gambino, and dad rock supremecist Michael McDonald to make their best case. Via E! Online, watch the video after the jump.

As always, 30 Rock‘s take on the media landscape remains accurately depressing. Would C-Lo Green singing the BJ and the Bear theme song really overrule a more entertaining alternative? Yes, yes it would.

Ryan Adams Is Back with the Same Old ‘Tude

Ryan Adams took a two-year break from music after being diagnosed with Ménière’s disease and starting treatment in 2009. He’s back with a new record: Ashes & Fire, his first release since last year’s III/IV with backing band The Cardinals (he released two albums during his hiatus). and it’s garnering critical acclaim, with many critics comparing it to his debut solo album Heartbreaker. Despite the accolades, Adams has already had a tricky relationship with music critics, and his mouthy responses continue to fuel those flames.

In an interview with AV Club, Adams discussed the impact that music has on his life, particularly pitting his relationship with music with the relationship with his wife, Mandy Moore. “It would be weird for me to think about a relationship, or relationships that people have, where who they were, or their passions, would be compromised,” he says. “That somebody would ask for that, that seems kind of weird.”

What is most entertaining, of course, is his tendency to respond to his critics, some of whom are his actual fans:

[O]ne of the interesting things about the Internet when you’re a musician is the sociology of the fans, the psychology of being a fan, and observing this negative and positively weird behavior. It’s kind of hard to explain this, but there’s this weird illness with people where it’s almost like they view their [favorite] artist as a football team or something, and all other artists are another team. [Laughs.] Or even sometimes, your records become sports teams. You put out a new record, and it’s like, “Tonight at Dodger Stadium, it’s the Easy Tigers vs. the Heartbreakers.” It’s super-competitive, and it’s a highly judgmental place for a place that should be free of judgment. My feeling about music is that it’s a place to go to get away from fucking negative creeps. And now, what’s really weird is that music is full of negative fucking creeps.

Does Adams have a point when it comes to an artist’s primary motives? Should his priorities be to create music he likes rather than what his audience expects? This is certainly a question that could be raised to every musician, but what is so fun about Ryan Adams is that he will always have a response that continues to garner the buzz around his albums, despite the reviews. Only more impressive is his prolific songwriting skills, which is the reason he’s been able to release thirteen studio albums in just eleven years.

October Album Reviews: My Brightest Diamond, Ryan Adams, Dum Dum Girls

My Brightest Diamond, All Things Will Unwind (Asthmatic Kitty) The third album from Detroit-based singer-songwriter Shara Worden, who performs under the name My Brightest Diamond, is a brilliant, sparking jewel of a release that calls to mind the work of Joanna Newsom, Sarah Slean, and St. Vincent. It’s at times devastatingly minimalist (“She Does Not Brave the War”) and at others poetically nonsensical (“Ding Dang” shares the same flair for bombastic verbosity that appears in Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky”), but All Things Will Unwind is undeniably a heartbreaking work of staggering genius. On “Escape Route,” Worden warbles, “It takes a lifetime to learn how to love.” With this album, it only takes a listen. —Nick Haramis

Class Actress, Rapprocher (Carpark) Performing under the moniker Class Actress, Elizabeth Harper’s latest album, Rapprocher, sounds a bit like what would happen if Dave Gahan, Oscar Wilde, and Madonna curled up together in the corner of a dark bar for some heartbreak-fueled debauchery. The follow-up to her 2010 EP, The Journal of Ardency, Rapprocher is an 11-song odyssey about the tumultuousness of the heart. It’s a lovelorn tale that’s dark and weary, with just enough synth to make it danceable. Lyrical sadness is skillfully applied to the disco beats and feel-good melodies scattered throughout the album. On “Bienvenue,” she channels Raymond Carver, repeating, “This is the way we talk when we talk about love,” making for a surprisingly poppy anthem. Although each song quickens the pulse, tracks like “Prove Me Wrong” fall on the downbeat side of dark electro, ideal for sinking into said shadowy bar corners. —Hillary Weston

Ryan Adams, Ashes & Fire (PAX-AM/Capitol) Ryan Adams has come full circle. The folk-inflected rock balladeer’s newest album, Ashes & Fire, is a return to the stripped-down sounds we fell in love with on Heartbreaker—and to the Ryan Adams solo show, thank heavens—but with the added bonus of some newfound artistic calm. It’s a relaxed affair produced by Glyn Johns (a legend in his own right) and features guests like Norah Jones and Benmont Tench. Adams’ formidable gifts as a storyteller are back to the fore—“I don’t remember, were we wild and young?” asks “Lucky Now”—as the songs settle in the chest and tug at the heart. Closing track “I Love You But I Don’t Know What To Say” conjures a chilly, forlorn romanticism—essentially, the perfect fall album. —HW

Dum Dum Girls, Only in Dreams (Sub Pop) All-girl foursomes—musical ones, anyway—seem to flourish in the California sun. From Warpaint to the Like, the left-coast double-x set is churning out daunting albums faster than you can say “matching beehives.” The latest comes courtesy of gothette rockers Dum Dum Girls—Sandy, Bambi, lead singer Dee Dee, and Jules—whose second album, Only in Dreams, represents a well-executed step toward aural maturity. The blankets of cotton-ball distortion that smothered their first effort, I Will Be, linger in the form of Jesus and Mary Chain–indebted reverb, but the lyrics are no longer lost, which is a very good thing, as Dee Dee has a lot to work through, including the recent death of her mother and frequent, tour-induced separation from her husband, Brandon Welchez of Crocodiles. “Coming Down” is as melodramatic, lonely, and gorgeous a ballad as you’re likely to hear this side of the Shangri-Las. —Megan Conway

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Hysterical (Self-released) Forget that summer fling you had with what’s-his-face and jump into fall with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s new album, Hysterical, an eerily perfect, reliably electrifying soundtrack to the changing of seasons. Putting rumors to rest that CYHSY broke up after the release of 2007’s Some Loud Thunder, the Brooklyn-based collective is back with a vengeance on their third studio album, reassuring us all that they’re here to stay. The bad news first: tracks like “Idiot” and “Same Mistake” will make you rethink some of those not-so-brilliant choices you’ve probably made in life. Now for the good news: they’ll also give you the courage to talk to the new kid on campus. —Lorenna Gomez-Sanchez

Bonnie “Prince” Billy & The Phantom Family Halo, The Mindeater (Knitting Factory) The auspicious meeting of freak-folk artists Bonnie “Prince” Billy and the Phantom Family Halo’s Dominic Cipolla has produced a weirdly engaging four-track EP that reminds us that the American south is still a vital place for modern pop. With a talent bordering on magical, the duo tweaks the twangy guitars and plaintive lyrics of their shared hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, to produce tracks that are at once powerful, haunting, and catchy. A remake of the Everly Brothers’ classic “I Wonder If I Care As Much” showcases their polish and range, but it’s cuts like the title track that show just how much feeling six strings and a pair of vocal chords can convey. —Victor Ozols

Dntel Life is Full of Possibilities, (Sub Pop) With his third studio album, Life is Full of Possibilities, Dntel’s James Tamborello (The Postal Service, Figurine) invites listeners to buckle up for an electronic-heavy, indie rock–infused, 10-track roller-coaster ride with driving drum machines and hypnotic keyboards. On “Anywhere Anyone,” guest vocalist Mia Doi Todd asks, “How can you love me if you don’t love yourself?” (This is the slow, steady incline part of the ride where you’re forced to confront your fears.) “Suddenly is Sooner than You Think,” however, is a subtly percussive free-fall back to reality—and, much like the rest of the album, a critique of harried contemporary existence. Life is definitely full of possibilities, including the possibility that this is Dntel’s best offering yet. —LGS

Rethinking New York State’s Unofficial Theme Song

Paste Magazine recently came up with 50 New York state songs for the 21st Century, and while most of their choices were satisfactory if underwhelming, their pick for the top spot, Ryan Adams’s “New York, New York,” left me cold. I mean, just because the music video features Big Apple cityscapes and gritty subway shots doesn’t mean he deserves first draw. It’s not a bad song, but does it really represent Gotham’s glory? The runners up were were “New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Dow” by LCD Soundsystem and “Empire State of Mind” (typical) by Jay-Z. I get that “Like a rat in the cage pulling minimum wage” probably doesn’t quite conjure the sense of soaring possibility tinged with crushing anonymity Paste was after, but is it really worse than “I had a tar-hut on the corner of 10th?”

In order to create a better list, I turned to one unbending New York principal that always, always holds true: randomness. I just typed “New York” into my iTunes search bar, and here’s what it turned up in no particular order, just the way I like it.

“Down and Out in New York City” by James Brown “Hard Times in New York Town” by Bob Dylan “Good Time” by Brazilian Girls “Paris Nights/New York Mornings” by Corinne Bailey Rae “New York Girls” by Angels of Light “Autumn In New York” by Billie Holiday “New York” by Ghostface Killah “New York Lady (Smooth Mix)” by Greenskeepers “Bucky Done Gun (New York Remix)” by M.I.A. “New York City” by The Polyamorous Affair “New York Was Great” by the Raveonettes “New York” by Sara Lov “The Only Living Boy in New York” by Simon and Garfunkel “New York” by U2 “Unique New York” by Jenn Grant

Ryan Adams & Yoko Ono: What Lies Beneath

In a world of trash heaps and disposable art, digital-only records and flashback culture, it’s comforting to know that we still walk among mythic artists. Yoko Ono is one of those artists. Her observations are so direct, so simple and so devoid of bullshit that they constantly remind me to reevaluate my perceptions. Her art reduces; it is a solvent for over-thinking. The proof of this is that, for the past 10 years, I’ve opened Grapefruit—her influential, heart- and mind-altering conceptual art book—whenever I start a new project. This has been a busy year for the 76-year-old legend. She re-formed the Plastic Ono Band with help from her son, Sean Lennon, and released Between My Head and the Sky, an album of powerful, modern music that startles one minute and soothes the next. Her voice, erotic and ghostly, tangles with the album’s reflective instrumentation. Listen for rhythms that recall ticking clocks, piano chords lilting in a far-off room and the soft purr of rainfall.

I’ve been captivated by this record because it’s very dreamlike. Do your dreams inform a lot of your compositions? Yoko Ono: It’s not specific like that. I just let my spirit or soul roll around and the music is the result of that.

I love the piano parts of the record. I got very emotional the first few times I heard them. That’s Sean. They are so beautiful, so incredible.

Sean was my neighbor in New York. He seems like he was such a prodigy. Was he a precocious child? He made himself, by himself. John and I never wanted to push him into music, so I was prepared that he might become an archaeologist or something. John didn’t even want to tell him that he was a Beatle. Sean found out from someone else. One day, he even asked John, “Were you a Beatle?” But he was always there when I recorded something. I think it started when John and I did Double Fantasy, and John would say that Sean should come. After John’s passing, Sean was always there at my recordings. And he experienced it—he remembers that I used this instrument or that instrument. Later, when Sean was in his twenties, I found out that he knew all of the Beatles’ songs, all of John’s songs and all of my songs—every lyric.

Your father played piano, too, didn’t he? I grew up in a very musical environment. My father was always playing piano. He would make me sing some songs and he’d accompany me. But he was not just a piano player—he was always listening to incredible music. I studied music from when I was about four or five years old. I was put into a school that teaches early music education, where I was taught perfect pitch and harmony. Music has always been a part of me.

It’s nice to hear you and Sean working together on this album. I didn’t think it was going to be great because they usually say, “Oh, a mother and son recording together—that should be very difficult.” But when Sean said, “Mommy, let’s do this record,” I said okay. There were some difficulties—little, tiny things—but the experience actually helped us to deepen our understanding of each other and the music we were making. I didn’t know that he was so good at music, actually. I was surprised.

When I used to play music with him just for fun, he was never really assertive about his ideas. He is very sensitive and very careful. That’s the difference between his dad and him, in a way. His dad was more arrogant. Sean is just as complex as John, but he has a kind of sensitivity that makes him not arrogant. While we were recording, I remember watching Sean and thinking, “Is that my son in there?” Whenever I’m talking to him—I can’t help it—he’s still my 5-year-old son. He’ll say, “I’m not 5 years old anymore, mommy,” and I’m like okay, whatever. But this time around, he made a big jump into becoming a very experienced and talented musician. That helped this record, in a different way than I ever could have imagined.

Are you guys going to do some shows together? We did a show in London at the Royal Festival Hall. There was this big crowd, like 2,000 people—ugh, we were all very nervous. But it went very well.

Did your nerves subside once you got out there to play the gig? I’m one of those people who gets very nervous. It’s very easy to agree to perform a year before a big concert, but when it gets to be like a week before, I always think, Why did I say yes?

Do you have any rituals that you do before you play a concert? I always change my shoes three times, because it calms me down. Nothing calms me down. I just try to drink sparkling water and then when I get on the stage I forget about the fact that I was nervous—it’s strange that way. But before that, it’s terrible.

Are there any new bands that you like? I don’t listen to too many new songs because—and I’m sure you’re like this, too—when you’re a singer-songwriter listening to other people’s music you think, “Well, they shouldn’t have done that in the intro, it’s a bit too loud and the mixing isn’t good. Why did they master it that way? I would never have done it so flat!” I’m very critical.

It’s the same as a chef walking into someone else’s kitchen. For relaxation, I listen to old Indian music. It’s so beautiful and just keeps going on and on. I listen to John’s music sometimes because I’ve had to, for business reasons.

I’d like to ask about your sunglasses. Do they make you feel less shy? Well, I used to wear sunglasses when John was still around, but after his passing I wore them because I wanted to hide a little bit. And then it became a very practical thing, say, if I’m in a press conference where there are so many people flashing lights to take photos.

YOKO’S FAVORITE PEOPLE WATCHING SPOT: DA SILVANO, NEW YORK CITY

Photography by Cleo Sullivan. Styling by Michel Onofrio. Hair by Frankie Foye @ Photo Op Management. Makeup by Jim Crawford for Shu Uemura. Photgrapher’s Assistant: Olivia Malone. Location: Hudson Studios.

One Night Only: Ryan Adams & Mary-Louise Parker Wax Poetic

Gee, golly, and wow. This week, we really sunk to a world record of cultural nadirs (ugh, ugh, and ugh), didn’t we? Well, the weekend is upon us, as is the most opportune moment to redeem our love for the letters. As it turns out, Ryan Adams and Weeds star Mary-Louise Parker are going to have an intimate chat about poetry and fiction. And you’re invited to eavesdrop.

Poetry, in case you are of the generation that no longer learns of such bygone forms of expression, is a dying art where creators piece together words and lines with regard to how rhythm, sound, and line breaks impact the overall effect. Really, it’s like painting with words. A few examples of people doing this well and who are also interesting include this lady and this dude. Fiction, however, enjoys more prominence, if only as breaks of sentience punctuating abstract entries at The Awl.

But you may ask, what does the multi-tasking indie rocker have to do with such endangered media? It turns out he’s chucked out a couple volumes of poetry, like Infinity Blues and his most recent collection, HelloSunshine. As for Parker, well she’s honestly just a couple exquisitely penned columns away from joining the literati herself — this, on top of all the versatile roles she’s assayed on stage and screen.

Their conversation takes place, appropriately enough, at the New York Public Library at 6 tonight, right after you get off work and are seeking that final jeté to carry you into the weekend.

Ryan Adams: The Raw Power of Raymond Pettibon

Who is Raymond Pettibon, exactly? For me, he is a monolithic pillar felled, breaking open the wall that separated me from my courage to be an artist, any kind I desired. He was born in Tuscon, Arizona, in 1957, has a B.A. from UCLA, and for anyone who ever drew stuff and also knew what feedback was (in a good way), he probably changed their life. If nothing else, his work hovered menacingly in the bedrooms of thousands of kids who grew up and fucked up the world for the better.

I was just like anybody else from my generation—starved for motive and ready for action. Pettibon’s words and directive-styled art called to me like a wolf to a cub lost in the wilderness of the mall-ridden 1980s. His work destroyed every idea I had about what art could be, in one single, accidental, gravitational album cover explosion. Before I could say I owned my first Raymond Pettibon drawing, xeroxed flyer or album cover pasted above my bed, a moment happened that changed my life, a moment in time forever burned into my screaming teenage soul.

An album slipped butter-finger style from a stack of clumsily carted records just as the dusk turned to Carolina night, all tar-black and twinkling at the edge of the ocean, like the lid of America popped off into nothing. We skaters met on the darkened streets to discuss our days of vandalism, ramp skating and music, our resources very limited. At that time, we were all investigators scouring the record store for anything that looked lost and loud, like we were.

Pow! A Black Flag record (My War) slipped from under the arm of a big-kid skater in my hometown. I admired him for his ability to smoke pot, skip school and avoid being arrested. The drawing on the cover in all its savage glory popped out as the vinyl hit the street and cracked. Loving comics, I said “What is that?”

Enter: punk rock. Also enter: a lifetime of trying to recreate the paranoid, savage, boxy and well, just wow artwork that adorned the album that slipped from the sleeve and broke on the pavement. Little did I know that this was not only the sound of the record breaking, but the feeling Pettibon’s artwork would give me through my teenage fuck-this, fuck-that years to right now. He is, in a word, fuckingbadass.

Pettibon is an award-winning fine artist known for his amazing black-and-white art found in books and illustrations used by legendary hardcore and punk bands such as Black Flag (his brother, Greg Ginn, was their guitarist), the Minutemen, Sonic Youth and the Foo Fighters. His art is a healing, howling fire that broke into the galleries and institutions it once challenged. I, for one, am grateful that he changed my world and the world around us by making art that is stunning, beautiful, sometimes shocking—but most of all, a mirror to contemporary culture, one half-menacing and the other provoking the world, as if wanting to watch it burn some more. Let’s check in with the modern genius, shall we?

RYAN ADAMS: Raymond, I’ve been following your work my whole life. It’s been interesting to grow up with your album covers and posters, and now, to see your work in proper art books. And then there are the awards you’ve won in recent years, like the Bucksbaum Award at the Whitney Biennial a few years back. Has this type of recognition changed the way you work? RAYMOND PETTIBON: I don’t think so, no. More than anything, the work requires things that are necessary and immutable—the research and the grind—which are things that I actually like. That stuff doesn’t change. I haven’t figured a way out of it, at least.

You seem to be one of those habitual artists. By that, I mean someone who goes to work sort of freely. I recognize the same method in myself. I tend to gravitate toward the work first and think about context later. I don’t exactly know what you mean by context.

Well, as an example, you might say that your art existed before it was on albums. But once it’s out there, it creates dialogue with an audience outside of the fine arts community, and even within it. At that point, the works begin to comment on things outside of themselves. Oh, I see. They were never created with a particular context or audience in mind. Punk has influenced my artwork significantly, but I’ve always let the pieces find their own natural audience, if there is one. I haven’t ever given much thought to promoting, managing or selling. To be honest, I’ve never been much of an agent.

Is it strange to walk around and see something that you drew in, like, 1983 on someone’s T-shirt? It can sometimes embarrass me because, well, that’s just my nature. But I’m really thankful for the kids today who appreciate my work. I’m certainly not going to put it down by being blasé about it.

I have a question for you from Sonic Youth’s Thurston More. He said, “I’ve always been kind of curious about Raymond’s pre-’76 years, his youth. What was his experience like as an American hippie?” Well, I was on the cusp of that generation, at best, because I was born in 1957. By the time I was independent enough to do something drastically dramatic like join a community, protest a store or run away, it was already over, really. The influence was there, of course. But as a kid, I just wasn’t in the position to be under that spell. It was a different generation, really, but I appreciate a lot about that period. It was a radical, engulfing time—there was way more experimentation, so many failures and successes.

How are things with your new band, the Niche Makers? We’ve actually done a few art-related performances. I tend to combine rehearsals with recordings. Instead of practicing, I would much rather go through songs with a microphone and hope that we get it on the first take. It’s like jazz.

That first take is always the most important. It’s always the one that makes people stop and say, “Whoa, what the fuck?” Unlike rock records, where you don’t see many versions of the same song, in jazz reissues, you can hear what sounds like pieces, layered fragments.Which brings me to my final question: when Sonic Youth came to you looking for artwork for Goo, had they already seen that image or was it a more collaborative process? If I remember correctly, they said they wanted me to draw some pictures for the record. And I was hesitant, not because I didn’t want to or because I was against it, but because I’m not very good at being commissioned to create stuff. I always freeze up. But that wasn’t the case with this. I think Kim [Gordon, singer, bass player and guitarist for Sonic Youth] probably saw some of the work I had kicking around… no, wait! The Goo cover was a drawing I had already completed. It struck her, I guess, those two kids on a crime spree.

It fits so incredibly well with the record. Raymond, thank you. I’ve been a fan of yours since I was just a kid, so it’s mind-blowing to get a chance to speak with you. Thank you so much for all of your work. I’m out here loving it.

Ryan Adams Interviews Marianne Faithfull

I remember meeting Marianne Faithfull for the first time. We were separated by a few thousand midnights, but even then, her eyes were kind, familiar. I remember her swaying figure through the glass of the control room at Globe Studios in New York. She was singing “English Girls Approximately,” a song I had written for an album, Love is Hell, that I’d made in three cities and in more than a little fog. As she cut the vocals on a very old RCA microphone, an ancient Elvis–looking spiderweb of silver grills and wires, I knew it was a mile marker for me. I also remember hazily talking to Marianne from the Chelsea Hotel some time thereafter, her voice a waterfall of calm and much needed kindness.

I had managed to construct my first art show, which fittingly showed in a bar, Niagara to be exact, on Avenue A and Seventh Street. Marianne came to my show that night and maybe from there she followed me to the studio. I did so many drugs back then, my days were fitted more for the outer planets on a longer day cycle.

It was winter, and every day was a miracle. Things like meeting Marianne and knowing she was going to be around were little silver threads that led me safely to the new days.

Marianne is the ultimate muse, and at the same time she dodges that weight. In her efforts, and in her romantic, seething nature, she lunges past the arrow and makes the perfect records, or says the perfect thing when you aren’t looking. Her gift is truth. And she is fucking gifted, gold-gilded and probably the smartest, sexiest, most engaging person you ever met (or didn’t).

It is said “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” was written for her. If we knew all of the Rolling Stones songs penned from her suggestions and stories, following the big brother/big sister embrace the Rolling Stones extended to her after she covered “As Tears Go By,” I’m sure it would be alarming.

She wrote “Sister Morphine.” She lived on a wall. She recovered from an addiction that beat her into the streets, destitute, more than once. Still, she endured. She is a phoenix, if one kept rising and re-rising.

Her album Broken English is essential. It is bold neon color. It is a scream past desperation. Broken English and Marianne’s autobiography, Faithfull, are tools necessary for any self-iconoclast, or anyone who would like to discover just how elegantly one might fall and crack seamlessly like a silver unicorn egg on a rattled mirror-ball floor.

Ours is a world of many stories and this one, this story, this woman and this life, is without compare. This life is a fleeting one, but it is a survivors’ tale and she is its champion. Marianne Faithfull has a voice to quiet rough seas riddled with beasts. She is the ineffable master, the ultimate crush, the one who knocked you into bed for the great winter of your affections. She starts our conversation with “Ryan, how are you?”

Hey, babe. Better now that I’m talking to you. So, what are you up to? I heard you’re retiring for a while.

I think so. Good idea. I would love to do it, just to make people appreciate what I have. It’s what Leonard did—you know, Leonard Cohen. When your period of introspection is over, they’ll all still be there.

Will I look as good as you look? Yeah.

Word. You’ll be fine. You’ve got beautiful bones and good teeth, and those things last. And if you haven’t got great teeth, when you’re older you can always get them put in.

I’ve always had really strong teeth. It’s very important because that’s what your face hangs on. It makes the shape of the face.

You know you’ve got the best teeth. They’re not all mine, dear. My front teeth were punched out by a male nurse in the detox clinic.

Do you know that my front teeth were punched out when I was a kid, in a parental situation? They’re fake. Oh, my dear. Well, there you go, we both have fake teeth, then.

That’s why we sing the blues so well. You can’t hit those notes unless you’re missing a few teeth. I quit smoking, Marianne. Oh, darling.

I went to a hypnotist yesterday. I have the name of a very good hypnotist in London, but I’m afraid to go because I’ve lost weight and I’m so pleased with myself. When you stop smoking, your metabolism doesn’t quite know what to do and you have to exercise a lot and all that shit. And I’m not ready for that, you know.

So you’ve made this new album Easy Come, Easy Go, produced by Hal Willner. Hal is a very old friend of mine. We’ve been through thick and thin—and quite a lot of thin. I met him in the early ’80s, when he was doing tribute records like the one to Nino Rota. And then he was doing a Kurt Weill one and he wanted to meet me.

Was he at Saturday Night Live then? Yeah. He’s had that job as long as I’ve known him. He’s had as many ups and downs as me, or dare I say, even you. He’s had a very picaresque life in many ways. And now he’s been very stable for 11 years. We became really good friends and we went through all these changes together, and finally we came out at the other end having made one very beautiful studio record. I wanted to leave a long time between them so this new record couldn’t be compared to that one, and in fact, it is very different. We did it very fast, with really great musicians.

There are some songs on here that are pretty exciting and pretty different, by everyone from Billie Holiday to Neko Case and some newer writers. I think the modern songs are brilliant. I love the Decemberists.

They’re amazing. I’m dying to meet them. I’m coming over, Ryan. We must meet up quietly.

Yeah. And I’ll be doing a couple of gigs with the original band on the record. I’m sure you know all those guys as well.

Tell me about why you chose to cover the Decemberists’ “The Crane Wife 3.” Hal found that song, and what I love about “The Crane Wife” is that it’s a folk tale. It’s about a man who falls in love with and marries a swan. The only real concept for this record was to work with great songs, and these were the ones that happened to be chosen from the modern idiom. I could have easily taken one of yours, and maybe I will one day.

Ooh. Oh, yes.

I love that you picked “Sing Me Back Home” by Merle Haggard, and had Keith Richards play on it. I knew you would. You like Merle Haggard, don’t you?

I think he’s such an asshole, but I really love his music. His sound is so tight, you can just hear the coffee and amphetamines dropping off. I know.

You know, his message, sort of anti-weirdo, reminds me of my dad. But I love his music, obviously. It was quite hard to choose that song, but what swung me was that I learned it from Keith himself in the ’60s. He used to sing it with Gram Parsons.

Can I ask you a couple of peripheral questions? Anything, you can ask me anything.

When you’re in New York, what are some of your favorite local things to do? Well, I love all of those funny bars downtown. That’s where I met you. I can’t remember which one.

Niagara. And I met Rufus [Wainwright] the same night as you.

You guys were hitting it off. Rufus had a way to go before he completely cleaned up and me, too. But I did and so did he.

I remember that session you and I did together… I remember it very well. I thought it was a great session and I loved the songs.

You and I sang on a song called “English Girls Approximately,” which was on my album Love Is Hell. The cover image on the record is from when you and I met down at the bar and I snuck into the two-dollar photo booth to snap a photo of myself. Did you? Well, you were in very good form.

I guess, for then. I’ve been sober now for three years. You cleaned up.

I was having an existential crisis. Yeah, I’m not surprised. You’ve been working very hard, Ryan. And that’s when you have to take a break. You’re lucky you’re not doing a destructive break, which is what I did.

How long did your destructive break last? After the ’60s, I fell apart. I think it went from 1970–1978, and then I pulled myself back. I have tremendous stage fright, and I can see why I used drugs and alcohol.

I have the same thing. It’s funny, because I’m completely shy but something drives me to keep doing it—it’s kind of like being afraid of heights and getting on a roller coaster every day. The complexity that comes with sobriety is sometimes more profound than anything that can be written down. I’m not presumptuous enough to say things about anyone else’s sobriety, but I will say, from the outside looking in—there you are, profoundly deep, so intelligent and so incredibly beautiful—that people didn’t know what to expect from you at one given time, and that becomes so confusing, right? I also felt like I had the complexity, and so when I got loaded to create, it almost narrowed my field of view enough to work. I think it short-fused me. I could do it, but I had to take huge quantities of substances. And now I’m feeling stronger, and I’m going to write the next record with friends. I’m probably going to want you to help me, too.

My thing is that I can never write about anything enough. I can never fully explain how much I love stuff. I can’t ever quite get it into the package. Well, it’ll get better with time and me too, I’m sure.

Did you know when you went inside the tomb… that you would get out again? Yes.

You’re one of those people who probably knew that, Okay, this sucks, but I need it for a while. If you looked at my schedule, especially when I was really working before I ran away with Mick [Jagger], it was insane. And so I took a bit of a break, too. I started living with Mick and it was rather wonderful—going on wonderful holidays, which you definitely need to do.

I can only imagine how pulled in every direction you were. I mean, no one lives like that. I just wasn’t strong enough. I always think it was my fault, but maybe it wasn’t my fault. Maybe it was just too much to expect from a young woman. And you’re a young man; you’ve got to have a life.

I sure wish I had come around and found you then. Oh, honey, we would have been perfect together.

Don’t you think? Yes I do. Or we would have killed each other.

When I met you, it was like somebody had lit fireworks. We were just instantly magnetized. We fell in love, Ryan.

You started to tell me all those stories and I was like, Oh, my God! I looked into your eyes and I thought, This is a soulmate.

Me too. So I’m very excited about the new record. I’m also really excited. I’m just going to get a pen so I can take your number down. We’ll check in now, and we won’t let each other go, and I’ll tell you how it goes.