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Ryan Adams – A video “Best Of”…

So, a while back I noticed that I had watched a lot… and I mean, a lot… of Ryan Adams videos on the ol’ Tube. And I got it into my head that one day, I should really post a collection of my favourite performances of his on here, but for various reasons, I never got around to it. One of the reasons was that the post itself would be extremely clumpy, with anywhere between 10 – 20 youtube videos all embedded in the post; it would have scrolled on and on, and might have been slow to load.

But then the other day, I stumbled upon Embedr, which allows you to embed multiple videos all into one handy frame… all you need to do is scroll through the videos below, and press play on whichever one you’re interested in. So, below, I present to you a “Ryan Adams Video Best Of…”; with some commentary added, of course.


1. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – “Two”, live on Letterman
One of my all-time favourite Ryan Adam’s songs, this performance of “Two” (from the Easy Tiger album) is simply heartbreaking. Incidentally, you’ll notice how many of these videos are of Ryan and the Cards performing on Letterman… all I can say is, thank you David for being such a Ryan supporter… it’s given us some great performances.
“If I could I’d treat you like you wanted me to I promise… but I’m fractured from the fall, and I wanna go home”
Album | Easy Tiger

2. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – “Fix It”, live on Letterman
From the Cardinal’s latest (and, ostensibly, last album) Cardinology, “Fix It” was one of the standout tracks. And this performance, where Ryan cries out “Fix It!” so plaintively at the 2:35 mark? Man, if that doesn’t make you feel something, I don’t know what will.
“I know it’s not a game, but it feels like losing when someone you love gets up and walks away…”
Album | Cardinology

3. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – “Come Pick Me Up”, live on Letterman
That harp opening man… that harp. One of the most heart-rending Ryan Adams songs you will ever hear. Probably the song that brought about this entire love affair that I have with his stuff. Also, this performance is from back in the day when Catherine Popper was in the band… man, she was great.
“Come pick me up, take me out… fuck me up, steal my records, screw all my friends behind my back… with a smile on your face, and then do it again.”
Album | Heartbreaker

4. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – “Now That You’re Gone”, live at Austin City Limits
If anyone out there has a copy of this gig, please let me know. It was aired on PBS back in 2005, and this song in particular from that night gets me like few others do. Oh, and Catherine’s in this one too.
“I don’t dare touch anything of yours, because it’s evidence of us, and it means everything… well sort of.”
Album | Cold Roses

5. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – “Desire”, live on BBC4 Sessions
The entire broadcast of this night is simply beautiful… high quality video recordings of Ryan’s concerts are hard to come by, and this entire set was simply, and beautifully, shot. It’s out there for download, with Ryan’s blessing, if you’re into that sort of thing. This song, “Desire”, just seems to have Ryan at possibly the most comfortable on stage I’ve ever seen… and that contentment is contagious. It’s a beautiful, beautiful thing.
“You know me. You don’t mind waiting. You just can’t show me, but God I’m praying, that you’ll find me, and that you’ll see me, That you run and never tire.

Album | Demolition

6. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – “Let It Ride”, live on Letterman
Bearded Ryan! It’s really interesting, watching the videos from different stages in Ryan’s career… it’s clear when, and when he isn’t comfortable in his own skin. This video has him at his “hiding behind his hair” best; but that doesn’t take away from an incendiary performance.
“Twenty-seven years of nothin’ but failures and promises that I couldn’t keep… Oh lord I wasn’t ready to go.”
Album | Cold Roses

7. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – “My Winding Wheel”, live on BBC4 Sessions
And then compare this video with the last… it’s a completely different performer, in all respects except the “awesomeness” one. The band in this song are so unbelievably tight, it’s like they’re one person with 5 sets of arms.
“So buy a pretty dress and wear it out tonight, for anyone you think could out do me…”
Album | Heartbreaker

8. Ryan Adams  – “So Alive”, live on Letterman
I still have no idea how this song did not blow up bigger than it did. “I am on your side!”, Ryan screams at the 2:28 mark… and man if he doesn’t speak for everyone who’s cried out “don’t forget me, I’m on your side here… I’m alive dammit!”. Pure emotion.
“Just put to bed and stand beside me. Stand beside me, always on your side… I’m on your side and so alive it isn’t real.”
Album | Rock n Roll

9. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – “Firecracker”, live in Jamaica
From the “Music in High Places” DVD, this performance of Ryan in Jamaica is full of such innocence, it’s hard not to fall in love with it. In fact, the entire DVD is like that.
“Well, everybody wants to go on forever, I just wanna burn up hard and bright.”
Album | Gold

10. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – “New York, New York”, live in Jamaica
Another performance in Jamaica, this track finds Ryan with a larger band than normal, with locals joining in on bongos and djembes. And it’s freakin’ awesome. Also, there’s a guy in the background who gets his ass drunk. No, I don’t mean himself, I mean his donkey. It’s hilarious.
On a more serious note, while I kept this “Best Of…” to live performances, you really should check out the official video for the track. Recorded just a few days before 9/11, it’s a bittersweet love song to that city of cities.
“The world won’t wait and I watched you shake. But honey, I don’t blame you… Hell, I still love you, New York”
Album | Gold

11. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – “Everybody Knows”, live on Letterman
You know, normally “Everybody Knows” isn’t one of my favourite Ryan Adams tracks… but for some reason, whenever I watch this video, that completely changes. Ryan and Neal’s voices complement each other so well in this performance, it’s sublime… and by the time it gets to that last refrain, it’s complete bliss.
“And everything’s changing so how I am to know how I’m going to hold on to you when I’m spinning out of control? You and I together, but only one of us in love…”
Album | Easy Tiger

12. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – “The Sun Also Sets”, live on Nissan Sessions
Ryan’s gradual intensity in the successive refrains in this song continually blow me away. I never, repeat never, get tired of watching this clip. That, “Oh, be sure…” cry at 1:53? It’s absolutely criminal the crowd doesn’t go wild at that point.
“There it is, we are only one push from the nest. There it is, we are only one moment from death. The sun rises, but the sun also sets…”
Album | Easy Tiger

13. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – “I Taught Myself How To Grow”, live on Letterman
Anyone who knows me knows this could quite possibly be my favourite Ryan Adams song (along with Wild Flowers), and this performance certainly doesn’t disappoint. Ryan at his heart-breaking-lyrics best.
“I taught myself how to grow, and now I’m crooked on the outside, and the inside’s broke”
Album | Easy Tiger

14. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – “Oh My God, Whatever, Etc”, live on BBC4 Sessions
All in performance. And I mean that in the sense that Ryan is performing in this song… not just singing, but with his entire body and flamboyant gestures. Neal’s guitar in this song is as trusty as a metronome too. If you aren’t singing along with the “Oh my God, whatever, etc…” line the second time you listen to this song, I’d be surprised.
“Strange lovers moan each others names on by-hour sheets for the very first time. One of them’s James, the other’s some name she changes every time she lies across his bed”
Album | Easy Tiger

15. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – “How Do You Keep Love Alive”, live on BBC4 Sessions
And so we end with this, one of the most heartbreaking songs in the list. It seemed a good a time as any to stop. No explanation for this one. The song title says all you need to know about what you’re in for.
“What does it mean to be so sad? When someone you love, someone you love is supposed to make you happy… What do you do, how do you keep love alive?”
Album | Cold Roses


And there we have it. Bear in mind, I had to stop this list somewhere… there are many other great Ryan Adams videos out there on the interwebs, but I hope that at least something on this list caught your eye. And I hope, if you haven’t before, you look into some of Ryan’s music. You won’t regret it.

7 replies on “Ryan Adams – A video “Best Of”…”

I've been wondering how people were doing this. Great idea and thank you for the wonderful Ryan collection. Now I'll be here at my computer for another hour or two. I'll be nice though. Thanks for the info and the vids.

I would include this Gold-era version of Touch, Feel and Lose from The Paridiso 2001. Though he was obviously blitzed out of his mind it was great when he put down the guitar and released his inner-Jagger.

Heh, I knew I would miss some! Totally forgot about the performance to tell you the truth, but now that you brought it up… yeah, absolutely love the rawness in that show. Man, this playlist could be expanded a few more hours, I'm sure…

Hey dblake,
You know, I'm not actually sure if I've seen that clip from the Paradiso before… and for some reason, that video won't load for me on Youtube right now (not having issues with any other videos, just that one); I'll keep trying, thanks for the suggestion!

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