learning love songs

est. 2008


Ryan Adams and the Cardinals


“There’s something about you
That reminds me of all those times
When I wasn’t sorry, when I wasn’t blue
The cherry moon it shone down on us
Under the stars shining down every one for you
If I could count them all
I would circle the moon
And count ’em back to nothing
Till I got to you.”

Is “Cold Roses” really a decade old, somehow, this year? I’ll take it – I’ll take any excuse I can to indulge in this indulgent Americana exercise. It’s a damn brilliant record.

I know “Cold Roses” like I know the bottom of my feet, in the sense that I could tell you what they look like without sacrificing the potential surprise. I love Ryan Adams, and this was among the first full-lengths of his I really got into. For a double LP, it is incredibly memorable, with a sound and style that truly carry in the same frame throughout. I like how it sounds on vinyl- no, love, because the track order is different a bit and it still keeps you guessing then. I bought this on vinyl, in Austin, before I had a record player, because I knew that even though I didn’t have one I’d known then I would want it later.

That was 2012. Sounds farther away than it was, really, time passes so fast and full. This track, “Meadowlake Street,” passes up too, it goes so fast without much of a command before the snare, and everything changes to the ear except the melody, which is familiar by this three-quarters through point. That theme picks up later in the album, “Beautiful Sorta” with a more up-front swing, then the title track’s own solo frenzy. In the same vein is “If I am a Stranger,” though the softer takes of “Now That You’re Gone” and the blues-tinged “Life is Beautiful” are of a softer touch. I don’t ever tire of his guitar sounds, lyrical subtleties or finer points of naivete indulgence. Bring it – that’s the only way you learn, Given that ten years out we’re all still talking about Ryan Adams, I’d say he’s not the worst as far as following your inspirations is concerned.

“Something in you dies, when it’s over
Everybody cries sometimes
If loving you’s a dream
That’s not worth having
Then why do I dream of you?”

~Meadowlake Street
Ryan adams and the Cardinals, Cold Roses


Songs I Can’t Listen to Sometimes 

These are songs that, even though I love them, I just press “next.” I’m guessing you, reader, understand. You have those songs too. I challenge you to listen, purge, experience. Feels kind of refreshing.

 1)Now That You’re Gone The saddest of the sad on “Cold Roses,” in my humble opinion. It’s a simple, sweet melody, but it doesn’t take much for me after I hear this song to desperately crave a man with kind eyes and strong arms to hold me and never let me go, because the song heralds all the loneliness you could ever feel for one person in one night. It’s the love song for the one who left you, and I can’t handle that sometimes. Or anytime. I’ve been left too much, and done too much of my own leaving, to let Ryan Adams remind me of how sad I am about it all.

“Everything you ever touched is undisturbed and hangs out/Like crime scene evidence undisturbed in dust I don’t dare touch anything because it’s evidence of us/And it means everything/Well sort of/I’m alone and I’m dancin’, with you now/In your old room, in your old house/I’m alone and I’m dancin’, with you now, in your old room, but there’s nobody there”
~Now That You’re Gone
Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, Cold Roses

2)Hear You Me
I loved this song real hard in high school, then I lost someone I loved. I needed to believe in angels because I still need to believe she’s happy, somewhere, and I can’t hear this song because it makes me think of her too much. Then I think of all the other people I love, and how desperately I need them to know that before life takes them from me, too. In any way, gorgeous song, but I don’t listen to it anymore. Just easier not to.

“on sleepless roads the sleepless go may angels lead you in” 
 ~Hear You Me
Jimmy Eat World, Bleed American

3)Girl in the War
Beautiful song. Probably my favorite Josh Ritter song, hands down, even though I’ve come to embrace a lot of his catalog. Something about this song just breaks me, just makes me feel something that brings me back to a place I’ll never be again. So I don’t want to listen to it, because I miss that place, with its subways and rainy days, its romance and pavement and prowess.

“Because the keys to the kingdom got locked inside the kingdom/And the angels fly around in there, but we can’t see them/And I got a girl in the war, Paul I know that they can hear me yell/If they can’t find a way to help, they can go to Hell/If they can’t find a way to help her, they can go to Hell” 
~Girl in the War
Josh Ritter, The Animal Years

4)Baker, Baker
Simply a favorite. Incredible song, but I still press next, because it makes me want to cry. Or call people who aren’t in my life anymore. It makes me want to reach out for what isn’t there hold. It makes me crumble in ways I’m not always equipped to deal with when driving home from work or the grocery store or whatever. Tori is so soft, so sentimental in this song, it’s so contrasting to so much of what else she does, but it stills me in a frightening way.

“I guess you’ve heard he’s gone to LA/He says that behind my eyes I’m hiding and he tells me I pushed him away/That my heart been’s hard to find/Here, there must be something here/Here, there must be something here” 
~Baker Baker
Tori Amos, Under the Pink

I don’t even think I have a version of this on a hard drive anywhere. I just don’t listen to it anymore. Was it even that good? Listening to it now, I feel a little older, I feel a little beyond it, but it still makes me want to make out like a teenager. It still makes me want to reach out for someone, anyone, I feel like understands me, knows me, wants to know me and need me.

  “and if I hurt you then I’m sorry please don’t think that this was easy”
Something Corporate


I love this song, because it’s kind of happy and sexy, but it’s still so sad. Maybe it’s just because I listened to it around 5 times in the span of four hours, but, I liked it before that, too. Today, though, it was kind of perfect. Made me think of what I’m leaving behind and what’s ahead – and how, despite that, it’ll be alright.

You know, you love *somebody* not some*body*. Know the difference, and notice. Speak the truth, it’s the only part that counts.

“She ain’t lonely now
See her shuffle across the floor
Yeah, she’s happier now
See her smile and say “come on”

Let’s dance all night
Let’s dance all night
Dance all night
Yeah, I think she’ll be alright

I ain’t lonely now
Yeah, I got someone I love
Someone I think about
Someone for me to take care of

Dance all night
Dance all night
Dance all night
Yeah, I think I’ll be alright

She ain’t lonely now
See her shuffle across the floor
Yeah, she’s happier now
See her smile and say “come on”

Let’s dance all night
Let’s dance all night
Dance all night
I think she’ll be alright”

~Dance All Night
Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, Cold Roses


This summer is defined by Cold Roses, and driving down Route 96 to avoid the thruway, and wishing the hills weren’t cluttered with car dealerships. This summer is about staying put when you want to run, run, run away.

This summer is decorated with moments of looking where I shouldn’t, and remaining unable to keep my hands to myself. This summer is not for improvement, this summer is not for self-empowerment, it is for the best and worst of me, celebrating each other for the first time.

I haven’t given up pen chewing, or nail-biting, or car-singing to no one. Or justifying my more vocal human feelings with the words of others when mine just won’t do.

I wanna be the bluebird singing
Singing to the roses in her yard
Roses in her yard her father grew for her
It’s been raining like Tennessee honey
So long I got too heavy to fly

Ain’t no bluebird ever gets too heavy to sing

Lie to me
Sing me a song
Sing me a song until the morning comes
And if the morning don’t come, will you lie to me
Will you take me to your bed
Will you lay me down
Ti’l I’m heavy like the rocks in the riverbed
That my savior made

~Magnolia Mountain,
Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, Cold Roses


So I love this song, but it was always a little on the twangy side, the album version at least.
This setting is new to me, and beautiful. The intro is pretty great, too.

“Loaded like a sailor
Tumbling off a ferry boat
I was at the bar till three
Oh Lord, and I wasn’t ready to go
I’m never ready to go
Tennessee’s a brother to my sister Carolina where they’re gonna bury me
And I ain’t ready to go
I’m never ready to go
Let it ride let it ride easy down the road
Let it ride
Let it take away all of this darkness
Let it ride
Let it rock me in the arms of stranger’s angels until it brings me home
Let it ride
Let it roll
Let it go”

~Let it Ride
Ryan Adam, Ryan Adams and the Cardinals


Woke up too early this morning.
Have listened to the entirety of “Cold Roses.”
Amazing idea.

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