Songs Ryan Adams and Taylor Swift Should Do Together

rytay cover

Tomorrow night, 8/13, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon has booked both Ryan Adams and Taylor Swift.

I think this has potential to be a fanatic opportunity for both performers.

Swift is appearing to promote her role in the upcoming movie ‘The Giver” and Adams booked as musical guest and is there to promote his upcoming self-titled release. I believe a few songs performed together would do a lot to gain Adams some mainstream exposure and allow Swift to gain a little indie creed.

Both performers are known for covering musicians that they respect. Ryan adams does a great interpretation of Iron Maiden’s “Wasted Years” and Swift really won be cover with her version of Mumford & Sons’ “Blank White Page.”

Aside from the image potential, I believe that interpreting eachother’s songs as duets or trade-offs would bring new dimensions to the work not head in it’s current form.

“Love Story” – Sure it’s sappy and naive, but Adams counts melt any jaded heart.

“Teardrops on My Guitar” – See above re: sappy and naive

“Back to December” – No one handles regret and heartbreak like Adams. This would kill.

“White Horse” – See above re: regret and heartbreak

“We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” – Adams’ would deconstruct this pop ditty and lay it’s dark, fatalistic core out odor all to see.

“Safe & Sound” – This is an obvious one. This Swift/Civil Wars collaboration for the Hunger Games is half-way to being in Adams’ style wheelhouse. The other half is in Tori Amos’ .

Ryan Adams songs I’d like to see Taylor Swift cover

“When the Stars Go Blue” – Arguably the best song from “Gold.” Perfect for a duet. Obvious connection since Tim McGraw
covered this one.

“16 Days” – A gem from Strangers Almanac. A duet and a single of this radio-friendly cut would surely sell a ton. I wonder if Adam’s would torpedo this song’s climb up the charts twice?

To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High) – From Heartbreaker. It’s fun. Swift knows fun.

“Two” – His best off “Easy Tiger,” and one of his biggest hits. A duet with swift would bring out the song’s sweetness.

“So Alive” – Also off Gold. This song rocks U2-style. Swift has been known to rock out on occasion.

“Lucky Now” – From 2011’s “Ashes & Fire,” another of Adam’s most radio-friendly, and optimistic, love songs.

I can imagine the eye-rolls and sneers resulting from this post by Swifties and whatever Adams fans call themselves. But i believe that both sWIFT AND adams have an independent streak and a love of musical history that would suit them.

If nothing else I got fans in each camp to hear the other’s music, probably for the very first time.

Taylor Swift – Love Hurts

Taylor Swift's RED Tour - Auckland, New Zealand

I never thought I would write these words, but below you will find my response to Taylor Swift’s Wall Street Journal essay.


Swift took the the pages of the Wall Street Journal For Taylor Swift, the Future of Music Is a Love Story to give her views, feelings really, of the ever tumultuous music industry. Boundless optimism might be a refreshing reprieve in these cynical, irony-drenched times of ours and might make for great pop dittys. But Swift’s reflections on the music industry map as well to economic realities as her love songs map to real adult relationships.

Not so much.

First she tackles value. She argues that a musician’s output, an album, should be measured by ” the amount of heart and soul an artist has bled into a body of work.” If only! Leaving aside the multitude of terrible, heartfelt albums that have been made, music is at the mercy of every other bought and sold goods, art or not. Supply and demand.

Though I personally loathe to use the word “art” when referring to music (I believe the label implies a stuffy distance) I will use it here as Swift has taken us down that path. As a crass binary analogy, there’s the Van Gogh level of art, rare and singular in it’s execution. Then there is the Thomas Kincaid level of art. More plentiful and generally pedestrian in it’s technic and subject matter. The former will put you back tens of millions of dollars if you are lucky to find one coming to auction, The latter can be bought for a few thousand dollars from an online gallery.

Obviously not all art is created equal.

Van Gogh’s scarcity of work, in actual numbers and availability in the market place sets it at a premium. The Internet has made scarcity obsolete. The Wu Tang Clan addressed this recently by creating master recording of their latest work “The Wu – Once Upon A Time In Shaolin” and putting it up for auction where it sold to a private buyer for millions. It was little more than a stunt, but it grabbed headlines because in the age of piracy inaccessible music from a major artist is a novelty.

Though Swift’s music isn’t scarce her live shows are. That’s one of the last go-to revenue streams for performers.

So where were the tips on putting on a great show (aside from inviting your famous friends onstage?) Where were the tips on using social media to build a loyal fan base? Where was the helpful advice on writing a song that “hit them like an arrow through the heart?”

These are Swift’s strengths. She’s a master and her stardom reflects her skills. Though she skirts across some of these topics in her piece she never digs into them to provide working musicians some takeaways. Something actionable.

Swift’s stardom paralleled the throwback to 50’s/60’s model of music consumption, the single. But new ways of experiencing music has not been met by new, and fair. compensation and control of that music. Streaming services are the contemporary jukeboxes but licensing and pay-outs that defined that era has’t progressed. No money means less chance a musician will soldier on. Swift could have joined Rosanne Cash and many others have testified before congress for fair musician’s compensation and control of their work.

A spotlight that Swift could bring to that discussion would be welcome and might get things moving faster in the right direction.

Perhaps Swift could start a label or management service to take young talent in and guide them along a path that can be treacherous.

I think Swift’s hand-shaped heart is in the right place. But talk, and WSJ puff-pieces, are cheap. If she really wants to make a positive impact on the music industry I’d like to see some action.

Taylor Swift to Perform with Alison Krauss, Vince Gill, Sam Bush at Country Music Awards


Nashville’s Tennessean posts an Associated Press story “Taylor Swift invites special guests to CMA Awards.”

These “Special guests” turn out to be some roots music heavy-hitters. Alison Krauss, Vince Gill, Sam Bush, bassist Edgar Meyer and percussionist Eric Darken. They will join Swift for on the Country Music Awards “special version” of her hit song “Red.”

Swift has worked with Americana musicians in the past, most notably her Grammy-wining collaboration withe The Civil Wars for the song “Safe and Sound” for the Hunger Games soundtrack.

This allows huge exposure for these participating artists, and give Swift some gravitas and Americana cred for a future career move.

How do you feel about this announcement?

Tune in to find out November 6th on ABC. Follow me on twitter as I will live tweet thsi awards


Taylor Who? – 5 Female Americana Music Artists

Since the release of her new album Red it’s been all Taylor Swift al the time (like that’s different.) I like what I know about Taylor Swift as a person and her diligence to her work and devotion to her fans. It’s her music that leaves me cold. Slap whatever Music City label you want on it she’s in with Selena Gomez and Miley Cyrus for the tween pop market.

I prefer my music for adults, even when being performed by a 20-something. I have no problem with style and spangles  but I want it served with substance.  Here are 5 female artists that fit the bill  that I would counter in any “Taylor is awesome!” discussion.

Your choice not here? Leave yours in the comments.

Lindi Ortega – That voice, those songs, that style. Triple threat!

Amanda Shires – All the above with the added awesomeness of being a Texan.

Lera Lynn – Caught her show in Nashville last September. Amazing!

Lydia Loveless – If you like your music served neat I would recommend Ms. Loveless

Nikki Lane – Also saw Ms. Lane in Nashville. Great show. I hope to hear something new from her soon.






Nikki Lane

Pretending to be Legends

In fighting outside your weight class news – A recent Variety article brought news that pop-country performer Taylor Swift would be portraying folk music legend Joni Mitchell in an upcoming movie  adaptation of Sheila Weller’s book “Girls Like Us.” Soon after that I read that pop-folk/pop-country performer Jewel will portray country music legend June Carter Cash in an upcoming Lifetime television movie. Yesterday I saw that Loretta Lynn had announced from the stage of Nashville’s Mother Church of Country Music, the Ryman Auditorium, that she had asked actress and pop-folk performer Zooey Deschanel to portray hey in ‘Coal Miner’s’ musical.

This is like casting Keanu Reeves to play the Buddha oh wait, that happened.

This news reminded me of when I heard that Jack White was appearing with Jimmy Page and The Edge in the movie “It Might Get Loud.” What the hell is he doing at THAT table?”

Here are performers that, despite sales, are clearly punching above their weight class. It’s a classic “Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy,” moment except  that instead of acknowledging these lightweights for what they are they are handed a job they are clearly undeserving of.

All due respect to Ms. Loretta, The choice of Deschanel , just like the choices of Swift, Jewel and White before them, is a choice of marketing potential, not musical qualifications. The decision to cast these cultural pee-wees has nothing to do with equivalent talent, it’s about demographic crossover and  getting viewers. As a lover of music, great lasting music, I don’t use the same criteria for assessment for placement in these roles. I immediately evaluate these performers on their work and my conclusion is “no way.” They don’t deserve the instant gravitas to their career that comes with portraying legends clearly out of their league. I have an idea, how about actually writing music that get’s you that cred instead of just playing one on TV.

But that takes a level of musical genius that none of these people possess.


Worlds Collide – Taylor Swift with The Civil Wars “Safe & Sound” from The Hunger Games Soundtrack

Though her discography to date isn’t my shot of hooch I do respect Taylor Swift’s work ethic and spirit for her craft. I moved closer to the Taylor camp when I came across her heartfelt cover of Mumford & Sons White Blank Page Cover for the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge. This morning while perusing the Interwebs I came across Swift’s cut for the upcoming The Hunger Games Soundtrack. Safe & Sound has Swift engaging one of her favorite bands, The Civil Wars, to tap into her inner Tori Amos covering what sounds like an outtake from the Civil War’s Grammy nominated Barton Hollow. Yes, that’s a a compliment. With T Bone Burnett producing the track we have full Music City/Americana worlds colliding.

It’ll be interesting to see how the imagined Americana gate-keepers welcome this collaboration from one of their chosen and an outsider trespassing in sacred ground. I wonder if they will heap scorn on this crass, commercial interloper or if they are just saving of of their venom for Linda Chorney.

Random (late) CMA Thoughts

I finally forced myself to sit through the 44th Annual presentation of the Country Music Association Awards that I recorded when it was televised live a couple of weeks ago. and I have to admit I enjoyed a lot of it.

Carry Underwood and Brad Paisley did a great job as co-hosts.  Underwood is easy on the eyes and has a great pipes and Brad Paisley is as close to a shredder as Nashville has. Both are warm and funny and make you feel right at home.

Rascal Flatts’ Gary LeVox used his wail to annoy dogs for miles around and to personally keep the hair product and skin bronzer industry in business. Kenny Chesney made football suck with his light-rock Boys of Fall and Taylor Swift performed an overwrought, orchestrated and fog-machine  and fake snow embellished variation on yet another Us Weekly article put to music and sure to print money. Sugarland unveiled their latest and probably annoying song Stuck Like Glue. Currant flavor of the week Lady Antebellum won Vocal Group of the Year by skillfully utilizing the bland, homogeneous pop sauce ladled in copious amounts at recording studios all over Music City. Reba wasted her impressive pipes on the soft-rock If I Were A Boy Lyrics.

The highlight were where the craft of country music peeked through the glitter. George Strait commanding the stage with his apologetically sentimental song of life and family Take Your Breath Away. The Zac Brown Band sharing the stage with Alan Jackson for the leaving song As Shes Walking Away. I have to admit I teared up a bit during Brad Paisley’s ode to his craft This Is Country Music.

Miranda Lambert beat the odds and won Album of the Year for Revolution. This make it her first win in the category and my first time to review an album nominated at the CMAs (or ever will again probably.) Lambert  is a personal favorite of mine. Like her current charts counterpart Jamey Johnson they’ve done a fine job of producing a body of work that combines their particular brand of hard country music.

Dierks Bentley took a huge chance for an established Country act to step into the Americana side of town with the Bluegrass-tinged Up On The Ridge.

Great to see the legend Little Jimmy Dickens.

Apparently there was a blonde shortage in country music so actress Gwyneth Paltrow passably entered the fray and upped her cred by sharing the stage with the extraordinary Vince Gill.

Sissy Spacek Introduced a Loretta Lynn tribute in her sweet Texas twang. Miranda Lambert nailed Coal Miner’s Daughter, but like Kid Rock I have no idea why Sheryl Crow was invited to this party. Was Carrie Underwood busy? Reba? Martina? Great to see a surprise appearance by the Lady Loretta Lynn herself.


News Round Up:WSM to Launch Live From The Loveless Cafe

  • Tune in tomorrow night to catch Emmylou Harris and Vince Gill perform together Wednesday’s Jay Leno Show. The pair on the West Coast participating in a series of All For the Hall benefit shows. Proceeds from the all-start line up, which also includes Melissa Etheridge, Dwight Yoakam, Keith Urban, Jason Aldean, Faith Hill and Taylor Swift, will allow Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum to expand. (The Boot)
  • Dr. Ralph Stanley’s autobiography Man of Constant Sorrow: My Life and Times will be released on October 15 (
  • The Americana brand continues to grow! Legendary radio station, WSM 650-AM, will launch a weekly Americana program called Music City Roots: Live From The Loveless Cafe. The on Oct. 14 debut show will feature  the legendary Emmylou Harris,  acclaimed duo Pam Rose and Mary Ann Kennedy, and emerging artists Annie Crane and Robin Ainger. Artists slated to performing in the coming months include Sam Bush, Radney Foster, John Cowan, Dexter Romweber, Dale Ann Bradley, Peter Bradley Adams, Mike Farris, Scott Miller and Webb Wilder. Each Wednesday evening broadcast will feature three to four artists in 30-minute segments, followed by a free-form “Loveless Jam” where all the artists and their bands will be invited to collaborate on the fly. WSM will air the show Wednesday nights from 7 – 9 p.m. live from the Loveless Barn in Nashville, TN. Ticket are on sale for performances.

News Round Up: Taylor Swift Attends Miranda Lambert’s Revolution

  • Vince Vaughn is not only hilarious, and tall, but he loves country music. Or is it Americana music…hell I can’ keep up.
  • The Americana extravaganza that is Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is next weekend people. John Prine, Lyle Lovett, Boz Scaggs, Steve Earle, Ricky Scaggs, Gillian Welch, Booker T and the Drive By Truckers as his backing band, Mavis Staples, Emmylou Harris, Doc Watson, Aimee Mann and Little Feat. And it’s FREE!
  • Taylor Swift showed up at the Ryman last night to watch Texas’ own Miranda Lambert play her new release Revolution (I wonder if she has to pay Steve Earle royalties on that too?) That’s right Taylor, that’s how it’s done! During her performance Lambert knelt down and kissed the historic wooden stage of the hallowed Mother Church of Country Music. No mics where taken from any performers as far as I know…

News Round Up: Kanye and Swift Give MTV Some Press

  • Scottish-Canadian country singer Johnny Reid was in the running for six awards, including Album of the Year for his latest release Dance With Me.The singer took home five trophies including Album, Songwriter, Video and Male Artist of the Year from the Canadian Country Music Awards. Dean Brody won Single of the Year for Brothers, Crystal Shawanda won Female Artist of the Year and Corb Lund won Roots Artist or Group of the Year
  • Son Volt’s Jay Farrar & Death Cab for Cutie’s Benjamin Gibbard are set to perform four special concerts to support their collaberation on the album One Fast Move Or I’m Gone: Kerouac’s Big Sur.  Other surprise material will be performed at four concerts in October, underscoring the influential author’s enduring legacy 40 years after his death on October 21, 1969. The band features Jay Farrar (Son Volt), Benjamin Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie, Postal Service), Nick Harmer (Death Cab for Cutie), Mark Spencer (Son Volt) and Jon Wurster (Superchunk, Bob Mould, The Mountain Goats).

Tour dates:
10/23 – El Rey Theatre – Los Angeles, CA (on sale 9/16)
10/24 – Bimbo’s 365 Club – San Francisco, CA (on sale 9/16)
10/26 – Lincoln Hall – Chicago, IL (on sale 9/25)
10/28 – Webster Hall – New York, NY (on sale 9/1Cool

  • has a nice feature on the Avett Brothers and their upcoming major label debut I and Love and You.
  • After fuming with the multitudes on twitter about the whole Kanye West / Taylor Swift Female Video of the Year diss dust-up at the MTV Awards, I’m convinced the whole thing was staged for media controversy. Kanye seems to be willing to do this every time he needs ink. He shot his mouth off at the the 2006 MTV Europe Music Awards in Denmark, when Touch The Sky lost out to Justice Vs Simian’s We Are Your Friends, Swift  has a repackaged Fearless coming out soon and more press couldn’t hurt, and MTV  gets press (and tweets) from any controversy. Remember the infamous 2003 Madonna/Britney Spears kiss?
  • Happy birthday to Bill Monroe is (98)!
  • Starting tomorrow I will be posting intermittently from the Americana Music Association conference and festival in Nashville. For more constant (and dubiously sober) posts check out my twitter profile.
Roots Artist or Group of the Year