By Bob McMahon
By Allison Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By Carolina de Busto
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
"This is Jill."
"Oh, well, I'm afraid Ryan's not currently doing any tour press. When he broke his wrist last year it took a long time to heal, so when he finally got back out there he just wanted to be able to play and not have to worry about anything else. So he's not doing any press, we're not doing review tickets; there won't even be any house photographers. It took a lot of pressure off of the first round of shows, so that's how we're going to do it again this time."
The journalist was indignant. Not only was she a professional, but she was a fan. She had been very first in line when he played Columbia a few years back, and when her friend Heather had not only seen him walking around downtown before the show but freaking talked to him as well, she righted the situation by grabbing the best spot in the Blue Note: very front and dead-center, Ryan's crotch directly in her face for the evening's duration.
So now Ryan gets drunk (what's new?) at a Liverpool, England, show, falls off the stage -- and she suffers? This was a grievous outrage. Lighting a candle under her Whiskeytown shrine, the journalist solemnly swore that one way or another, she would be getting this interview.
David Ryan Adams was born in Jacksonville, North Carolina, on November 5, 1974. That meant he was only a few years older than the journalist, which in turn meant that they were, obviously, destined to be together.
Forget the fact that he was currently dating Parker Posey, or that he did date Columbia show-opener Leona Naess, or even that he dated Winona Ryder. Please. 1) The journalist attended a Leona show once, and when she turned around, Ryan was standing right next to her at the bar, asking for a glass of water to take to Leona. The journalist couldn't bring herself to say anything, but he gave her The Acknowledging Nod. Therefore, he was already unhappy with his relationship and had a definite and meaningful interaction with her. 2) The journalist dressed up as Winona three Halloweens ago -- Macy's shopping bag, handcuffs, pills, et al. -- and won second place at a costume contest. It was only a matter of time before she had a Parker Posey-related experience as well. What could any of these other girls offer Ryan that she couldn't?
He was raised on George Jones, Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash, just like the journalist had been (with the addition of the Statler Brothers and the Judds). Their musical tastes both developed and expanded, and about the time she began writing concert reviews of New Kids on the Block and his future collaborator Elton John, he began writing songs. Good songs. And he didn't stop.
"No, we don't have the Pink Hearts. We don't have the Fucking Virgins. We don't have Werewolph. We don't have the Finger," the clerk said. "I've totally never heard of any of those guys."
The journalist left the oh-so-indie record store feeling smug. Her taste in side-project bands was obviously far superior to those actually paid to know about music. She should open her own record store, one that stocked only Ryan and Ryan-approved stuff. And it could be named "She's Lost Total Control," after the song on Rock N Roll, because, you know...she had. But in a good way. Really.
"I've already told you, I am not going to let you just sit there and stare for hours on end without ordering anything!" said the bartender at Niagara, the East Village bar owned by Ryan's friend and tour-opener Jesse Malin. "Do you want me to have to get security?"
Upon leaving her holding cell hours a few hours later, the journalist felt despondent. It was probably how Ryan felt when Friends ended and he shut down his Web site in tribute. She decided to go home and follow his lead: When record-label issues with Love Is Hell surfaced last year, he smoked some Moroccan hash and ranted up a message-board storm. Not too sure where to get any hash, let alone of the Moroccan variety, and not in possession of her own Web site, she settled for the next best thing: frying up a big pile of hash browns and carving his name over and over again into her leg with a knife that was, in Ryan's own words, up in the kitchen, too dull to smile.
She didn't know it at the time, but the journalist's first Ryan exposure occurred when she and Heather went to California one summer, drove north through the desert, saw a UFO and caught a Counting Crows show. In the middle of "Goodnight Elisabeth," Adam Duritz began singing "Come pick me up/Take me out/Fuck me up/Steal my records," and the journalist and Heather thought it was the most kickass song they had ever heard.
She was later officially introduced through Gold, when "New York, New York" played incessantly on the local radio station after 9/11. Not that she listened to the radio. The song echoed the way she felt about New York, and it also listed lots of locations where Ryan used to hang out but most certainly didn't anymore. Not that she went looking for him or anything.
After working backwards to Heartbreaker, she knew there was something strangely familiar about that "Come Pick Me Up" track. And after seeing the video for "Answering Bell," in which Ryan, Adam, Leona and Elton do a drugged-out take on The Wizard of Oz, it all finally made sense. Her life, that was, not the video.
The journalist was ready to go. After St. Louis, she had a ride to Cincinnati, and she had already bought a bus ticket to Nashville for the following show at the Ryman Auditorium -- the fabled venue where Johnny Cash busted out all the footlights and Ryan tried to kick a guy out a year ago for requesting a song by a Canadian singer who had, in a previous lifetime, also filed a restraining order against the journalist.
So what if she hadn't interviewed Ryan in time for the story? There was still plenty of opportunity to speak with him, be with him, spend the rest of her life with him. What kind of wedding cake would they have? What would they name their kids? These were all important questions. She reminded herself to visit him in the attic later and take off the gag so he could share his thoughts on the matter.