Ryan Adams has an abiding love for 90s Brit-pop band, Oasis. He’s been quoted as saying, “Oasis mattered, unlike today’s bulls**t.”
In 2003, he did a cover of “Wonderwall.” Now, he’s taking it a step further with a double album of Oasis covers including the tracks on 1995’s (What’s The Story) Morning Glory. It’s not his first crack at covering full albums; in 2015, he took on Taylor Swift’s entire 1989 album.
We had a chance to sit down and explore this Oasis project, and why he likes doing covers of full albums. Oh, and by the way, he’s out on tour right now.
You’ve produced a re-recording of Morning Glory. What drew you to the album?
What drew me to the album was that it seemed like it would be impossible to cover. I like being impossible.
I have also always thought maybe some of the B sides felt like shadows of some of the bigger moments on the album as we know it. And to me, I saw the possibility of structuring the album like the White Album, in form – but musically looking through the lyrics as through the lens of regret. Like The Smiths in tone but the structure of the White Album, which is expansive and playful.
There’s a deep melancholy in the words and in the melodies that I think I heard immediately when I first got the album – it lives as it is in a state of “urgency” everything about it is “NOW” and it serves the songs and is true to the spirit of Oasis.
For me, I like the challenge of finding out if flipping the intention of the narrator of the songs musically and otherwise, offers totally new things that weren’t there before. It has been 100 percent that so far and it speaks to the depth of the songs. I am doing it because I love these songs and I believe songs have many lives, and if this does nothing more than draw ears back to the majestic nature of the original that’s fine.
But for me, it’s like how Velvet Underground’s “Sweet Jane” had a new and totally different life with the Cowboy Junkies’ version decades later (even being the wedding song in Natural Born Killers ). I believe that albums can and should be explored, and for me, this is another way of loving that album and that monolithic band.
Have you interacted with Noel Gallagher?
About these covers? Noel has always been very lovely to me. I was told he’s aware I’ve been working on the album but in all fairness we only ever discuss guitars. He is fanatical about them as I am and the last time we spoke it was about ES355s and ES model Gibsons. He plays one of Johnny Marr’s which I got to look at and it nearly made me pass out. That was a minute ago when we played on the same show somewhere in Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh I think. We talked about guitars until both our tour managers were like, “Hey, we have a show to play, wrap it up.”
Would you agree that Noel Gallagher is to England what Bruce Springsteen is to America?
No. Noel Gallagher is a hologram of a dragon on the moon. The whole world sees it. It can’t be stopped and even if you hate it you probably kind of secretly love it.
Bruce Springsteen is like a movie about greasers with Marlon Brando and Carole Lombard and you’re the only person in the movie theater and it only plays once. Even if other people saw it they seem to have seen a completely different movie. His catalog is a gospel church and a burger stand and a switchblade stuck in a tire of a man running from his past.
Noel’s songs, specifically Oasis songs, are like a cup of Eton Mess the size of Jupiter shooting lasers into your soul.
When you write, what instrument do you compose from?
I usually write something in my mind and just scribble the words down and the key it starts in. I don’t need the guitar or piano anymore to write I can access all the notes on my own in my mind. I might have to use a capo when I first get to the guitar but the melody is always there for me.
There’s no rush and no fear in my process. It’s a solid love and it’s a landline connection. One of us always picks up. Sometimes I’m calling, looking for it but I’m usually answering the thing in me that wants to make something. I am dysfunctional in plenty of ways but that part of my life is absolutely beautiful.
How did Taylor Swift react to your re-recording of the 1989 album?
I don’t know. She sent me a video of her cat Olivia being a weirdo. My cats are weirdos too so we had that to talk about. We didn’t really discuss it. If you have cats you’ll completely understand this answer.
You recorded a duet with Norah Jones – what was that experience like?
Actually, Norah has been on a handful of albums I’ve made – including the entire album Ashes and Fire. She’s fantastic.
Do you have a favorite track from Blood On The Tracks?
I prefer Blood on the Tapes, the original version of the album. It’s almost all acoustic and Bob live, seemingly emotionally destroyed and possibly drunk. The entire thing is perfect but a favorite is “If You See Her, Say Hello.”
Are there any other projects you would like to tell CultureSonar about?
I’m starting this year with a solo album trilogy, followed by or proceeded by Return to Carnegie Hall, and then maybe just maybe a new Cardinals album.
Photo: Ryan Adams (Adam Blackstein)
PS — While we’re on the topic of Rock History, you might enjoy our YouTube series of daily one-minute nuggets of memorable moments…