And while there may be an element of truth to such cynicism-as highlighted by the online coverage of Father John Misty’s snarky “reinterpretation of the classic Ryan Adams album 1989”, which he posted to Soundcloud immediately after the album was released-Adam’s reading of the album deserves to be listened to on its own terms.
Turns out both Taylor Swift and Ryan Adams are liars.
But holy hell is this album fun.
Can you remember the last time people made this big a deal out of a covers record – let alone one that just involved one artist playing a full album by another?
But the way the album has been talked about – even in some corners of the press – seems to miss much of what made it possible in the first place. But it’s at least a little odd to argue that an album of covers is somehow “more sincere” than the original, especially when earnest, sad-sounding covers of seemingly happy songs are a bit of a cottage industry of late. For Adams to toss off in a matter of months such inventive and well-developed arrangements of what are already established pop songs is both an impressive feat on Adams’ part and a testament to the strength of Swift’s pop sensibilities and songwriting.
It’s tempting to dismiss Ryan Adam’s reworking of Taylor Swift’s 1989 as nothing more than a cheap trick, a symptom of an oversaturated media culture rapidly consuming itself.
While Swift condoned Adams’ interpretation, there’s no evidence to suggest she was super-excited about yet another male folk musician using her lyrics.
To be fair, Adams was teasing us with some primo sh*t. And perhaps Adams’ 1989 is actually the most alt-country thing a foundational member of the genre can do: Take the mainstream pop of a former country star and add a Telecaster and a pack of Marlboros into the mix.
And stream the entirety of Adams’ lovely, devastating 1989 cover album. It’s an evocative song no matter how you style it, and Swift deserves far more credit for what Ryan Adams can do with a song like that in his hands. One thing though: you know when someone starts telling you about their dreams and it should be interesting because of how ~out there~ and f***ed up it is – like when your friend takes you to one side at the bar and begins a ten minute rant about how he can’t enjoy Paul Rudd films anymore because he had a frightful dream about him involving Freddy Kruger hands, innocent puppies, his grandma and the set of Home Improvement – but for some fundamental but inexplicable reason it always 100% isn’t interesting at all and you completely tune out?
Today, ironic covers of pop songs are ubiquitous across the Internet. The jangly, reverb-drenched guitars on “Welcome to New York” and “Bad Blood” invoke the ringing arpeggios of R.E.M. and The Smiths.