Here are the songs Ryan posted in the last day. Will I Am Alone Again Today be the last new material from DRA (technically from the The Cardinals as that is the tag associated with the file) for a while? I hope not. Two and Born Into A Light are both older YouTube video's. The video's and MP3's are all in one file.
I don't know what to make of this. Is is DRA being a drama queen? I hope so.
From the Cardinal Cave
me- 34-a non smoker and happy, for the first time in my life.. i am excited to finish this wonderful time i have had with the cardinals and whatever new adventures may come after march. atlanta will be my last venture with the band and i am grateful for the time we have had and maybe someday we will have more stories to tell together. i am however ready for quieter times as i think it is very evident i am struggling with some balance and hearing issues.
also, no drama or anything but i am okay to step back from all of this right now and i think i did enough manic blogging when i felt alone and isolated during the last few years of travel. these last few years were the hardest i can remember and the most rewarding but i have loved ones to care for now and i am lucky i have been given a chance to turn around and see just what i am capable of as a friend and as someone who is not gone forever every year- it rendered me incapable of things i needed to be to myself and others- and my schedule sometimes never ended when the shows did- and some of that was my doing. and i lost someone i loved, and i lost myself.
that changed. i got to know just who i am in this little spell of time here recently. and change is the nature of the world and i naturally embrace that.
i won’t be blogging here anymore either- but not for effect- it just is not being kind to myself- i need a life that is mine- i need to grow up and grow in to who i have subtly been working back towards since i stopped all that nonsense and i know also no matter what i choose to do in the music world, because i chose to do things my way and never lie i will always be viewed as an “asshole” ( i hear and have seen things in the past) and i am not, and i know the truth and i know who i am.
also it is kind of ridiculous to blog as i am a musician and anything i say here just gets reprinted at some point out of context. i say NOT FAIR but it doesn’t matter what i say anymore or what is fair anymore really does it- the 21st century media has it’s own rules about what is true and what is not. it is not a life- not one i want to live anyway and i don’t really care to participate in narcissistic over-indulgent behavior anymore- that was never my intention- i just wanted to fight for my right to make music and to be given the benefit of the doubt. now, because i have stood up for myself and fought for myself i am labeled all kinds of awful things. well, i will walk away now and it will not matter what anyone say’s. there are other things i can do in this life, other ways to be creative and to try and help others and be expressive without being demonized for attempting to gain the same things any other human being desires- love- friendship- understanding- and being able to express yourself without constant fear of being mistreated for speaking up
i have friends to make, brand new books coming (two of em’ not counting that one already printed and on it’s way out there and i LOVE writing….yay!) and a whole lot of living and learning to do.
i am excited to step away. i lost more than anyone will ever know (hearing, someone i loved, my sense of dignity, a never ending losing battle with stage fright and now my hearing and balance due to an inner ear issue- people accusing me of not being sober when i am suffering tremendous pain and nausea from my inner ear symptoms- people accusing me of theft (THEFT- ….awful) and this is not much of a life, not glamorous like those ridiculous video’s a long time ago television played and no it is not monetarily as rewarding as people would like you to believe and yes, it is soul destroying. especially when you spend your life trying to write about the really difficult stuff and you stand there losing your way and people yell at you like you were in a circus. when it was your dream to matter and you realize one day, it never mattered- i mean, i am a punch-line and a footnote in what is worse to yell at someone besides “free-bird”. i mean, i lost. and it’s okay because i seriously snuck some pretty neat idea’s in there in the work when i was making those mistakes or they were being made by others. this business is no science.
andf you know, whatever this is- it’s not my dream. and it is a punishing thing to endure when you are getting worse and worse- it’s not my dream, my dream was to try and tap into that energy i saw watching Minutemen vcr tapes when i was just a little shit in NC of mike watt’s crazy shaking leg and his electric fingers- or how sonic youth droned into beautiful clouds those guitars shaking, kim and steve rattling the pulsing lines into feverish thudding imaginary subway cars racing through my heart- and how it felt to just let go and static up a riff and find the sweet spot- but getting yelled at for just being a songwriter- to be called so many horrid things because i chose to love music so much, and also to look for peace and balance in my life- that is not kindness and just not my thing. at least not now.
and i loved somebody. and i let others decided if that was okay and that was wrong and i was wrong and no one should deny themselves or others love or understanding because people don’t get it. that was an awful mistake. i always make big mistakes. it’s like i let myself learn that because that was a role, a niche’ i filled that make sense to a loud voice of strangers who would never really play a real part in my life.
never become that if you choose this path- if you go this route with your art. never listen to those loud dissatisfied bystanders who only want to see you fail because that will be entertaining for that moment. hold fast to your dreams, hold faster to your heart and never step out of the light of that love that made you whole. i did. and i know better now. and better late than never i suppose.
but i am okay now. i see a peaceful way to better days now. i am healing. and most importantly i feel loved and i have learned to treat myself with that same curiosity and lover that i have been lucky enough to feel and to learn to let guide my life. love is the great teacher and i am happy to be learning now. happy to be listening to that over this never ending painful ringing. this is the great lesson of my life. for once i want to be dignified in my study and in one place long enough to hear and understand without my pride or my lack of faith in myself leading me further away from things i need to know once and for all.
this is the real work now. the rest is something else entirely.
quitting smoking was a good step and i am happy i also am just now beginning to understand how important it is i take better care of myself in every way right now. hell i am even beginning to sleep a little and i can feel the things good and bad that i did not have time to feel when i was running towards a new oblivion of work, hoping somehow someday what i did would be accepted and maybe that would make me feel loved. how foolish.
that is not love. love is being accepted for who you are. love is taking care of yourself and caring for others and dreaming out loud when it matters. not chasing rainbows. not hoping for some eventual collective sigh of approval which will never come. how did i ever think in those terms? i always knew better. thank goodness i know now how to be honest with myself.
anyway, enjoy these shows ( i will enjoy them immensely and i will miss them just as much) and know that i am not abandoning anyone, not the cardinals and not the fans, this is just something i need to do now, and that i loved playing music in the cardinals and hell, even before i was in a place to try and learn to be well, music was my life source- and cardinals was such a heavy crush and a real dream…i honor it too much to have any regrets right now, i am just proud.
maybe we will play again sometime and maybe i will work my way back into some kind of music situation but this is the time for me to step back now, to reel it in and i wish everyone peace and happiness and if music is your dream, or if just dreaming is your dream, may you find your way through the rough patch with ease and i hope you let go and it takes you all the way there-
It's amazing that a London cabbie had to travel all the way to Nashville, Tennessee to hear about us. But that's what happened with Jason Brown, our cabbie for this Session. A keen music fan, he went over there for an event and heard a talk from BBC2 radio DJ Bob Harris who apparently mentioned what we're up to. Jason loved the idea, and on his return looked us up and offered his services for a Session. What is more, he just so happened to be a pretty big Ryan Adams fan. Perfect. There was a slight concern at the start of the Session though: Ryan gets car sick. Ryan's manager warned us of this and asked that, as much as possible, we drive in a straight line. It's definitely one of the stranger requests that Jason's ever had, but he did his best while in the back Ryan manfully rose above the nausea to sing his heart out. Hope you enjoy it - Jason certainly did.
DRA is a masterful songwriter. Even if you don’t like his style of music, he is without doubt one of the greatest contemporary songwriters. I could say the same about many others, but since this is a DRA board, he’ll be the center. And I’m not going to do anything as cliché as comparing him to this songwriter or another, because for starters, everyone already knows those, and second, none of them are that accurate. I’ve heard him compared to people so diverse that it gets a little absurd—not that his skill isn’t that diverse, but the people to whom he compared are just as much so, and so comparisons are a bit redundant. Let’s just say he’s great, okay? Okay.
Now, as a songwriter, one of the ways I decide who I admire is when someone says something in a way that I wish I had come up with. Take, for example, lines from “Crossed-Out Name:” ‘I kiss her mouth and I know/For everything there is a word, everything but this.’ Seriously. There are so many ways to express the schmaltzy sentiment of, “No words can describe how I feel, etc.,” but he puts it so simply that it’s exquisite. It’s not over-the-top, it’s not even remarkably lyrical, but its simplicity is amazing. Or take a line from “Let It Ride:” ‘Tennessee’s a brother to my sister Carolina . . .” The first time I heard that I couldn’t believe my ears. Again, it’s not reinventing the wheel, and the same thing’s been said a million different ways, but he manages to put his finger on it in a way that is so effortless that it’s striking.
Another strength of his writing is in how evocative he can be with just a few words. “Twenty seven years of nothing but failures and promises that I couldn’t keep.” “We married young, stayed where we came from, and gave those children everything we had.” Or the entirety of songs like “Thank You Louise,” and the often discussed “Carolina Rain.” Within the economy of language and words in these verses is a story that anyone can sort of piece together in their own way. We get a sense of the narrator (and his perception of himself) in “Let It Ride,” in around a dozen words, and if the song had no other words, we’d still know who he was. We understand the breadth of life that the man has had with his wife in “In My Time of Need,” without really knowing what has happened—and in fact we probably have people in our own lives of whom that line or even the whole song could be true. And he gives us just enough dots to connect and make a story about Louise, Caroline &/or Rose, and any number of characters that exist in the world that he crafts, whether it’s a large, devouring city, or a small town that’s barely as wide as the police station is tall. Whichever the case, it doesn’t take DRA many words to give us a picture worth a thousand of them, and a story that is ever-changing in the imagination of the listener.
For me, one of the more endearing aspects of the way DRA writes is how conversational or colloquial he can be. Certainly, his songs have a lyrical quality to them, with good images and word play and all of those things you learn about in high school that make for good writing. But what stands out the most is the deftness with which DRA throws in phrases and words that are (or at least could be) part of someone’s everyday conversation. Take lines from “English Girls,” “Halloween,” or “Suspicion”—and not really the whole songs, but just flourishes that almost come off as after-thoughts. “You said you didn’t love me, it was right on time, I was just about to tell you, but okay, alright.” It doesn’t even sound like a song lyric, it sounds like one side of an amusing conversation, or a guy recalling a memory to a lover after the fact, with a sense of humor about things, and with his tongue placed firmly in his cheek. “Suspicion,” is, as I stated in a previous thread, so understated that you almost forget about it. But it’s elegant in the way that it sounds like two people sharing both the pain they caused each other and the pain that they’ve felt from others, and the way that DRA urges the person to move on and “Get used to it, kid.” It’s a conversation being had. My favorite part in “Halloween” is at the end of two lines in the last verse where he ends each phrase dismissively: “Well, okay. . . .Whatever.” It’s hard to use a phrase popularized by a movie popularized by Alecia Silverstone in the late 90’s in a song and not have it sound completely stupid. But he does it, and it’s artful, and it even makes me laugh.
What makes a great songwriter great and makes their songs feel timeless and appealing to a lot of people is how accessible the things they write are. Take a song like, “Crazy,” by Willie Nelson (I know Patsy Cline made it famous, but Nelson wrote it), or “Gulf Coast Highway,” by Nancy Griffith. These are songs that are at once specific enough to tell a story, but vague enough to remind each of us about someone different. The lover in “Crazy” isn’t going on and on about the details of the failed relationship (like so many Dashboard Confessional songs) or pouring out syrupy confessions of unrequited love (like “Every Rose Has a Thorn” or “The Reason is You”). “Crazy” is about the elemental part of romance and heartbreak, that anyone can understand, not just the self-indulgent few of us who’ve made a million dollars, wasted it on blow, and been dumped by exotic dancers from payphones while we were on tour. “Gulf Coast Highway” is about two people, for sure, but they are archetypes, not stereotypes. We provide their faces and their names, and we provide most of the story ourselves. That’s why I, a 26 year old guy from the South, can love the songs as much as a 59 year old woman from California.
And this is why DRA is such an effective songwriter. He certainly writes his share of intensely personal songs, but they never cross the border into self-indulgent, heart-on-his-sleeve self-pity. His most personal songs feel like the shy confessions of someone who’d just assume you leave him alone, but is relieved to get it off his chest. But by and large, his songs feel more like Everyman. You don’t have to be a lonely high school kid who’s just had his first taste of heartbreak and thinks that the world is going to end (Screaming Infidelities). You don’t have to be a 20-something woman angry at a bad boyfriend (Goodbye Earl). You certainly can be, of course, but a good songwriter doesn’t demand that you be his or her clone to understand where they are coming from, whereas some songwriters are so insistent on you being like them that if you’re not, you’re almost shut out completely (and better for it, really).
And DRA doesn’t demand that of his audience. He just opens the window so you can hear his ramblings if you happen to be passing by. His personal experiences feel like something anyone could have seen or heard or felt. His towns and people, even when they are named, are just cardboard facades that hide the towns we all grew up in and the faces of people we all grew up with.
Here are some videos in MP4 format for everyone to enjoy. They are: Showtime: A Documentary On The Cardinals and Rosebud. The first is them at sound check and then some back stage stuff and the latter is DRA playing the Cold Roses song of the same name on an acoustic in a hotel room. Enjoy.