earworm: “Firecracker,” Ryan Adams (2001)

Ryan Adams has a new album coming out and this makes me happy. I listened to the first single, “Gimme Something Good” and liked it. I appreciate that it sounds a little different than previous singles, and has a decidedly early ’80s rock vibe, like Foreigner or the Eagles or something. I saw a song list for the album and noted that Track 2 is titled “Kim”. I certainly hope I like that one. My anticipation of new Ryan Adams made me itch for old Ryan Adams and took me on a little stroll down musical memory lane. I stopped repeatedly at “Firecracker” which always makes me want to dance. I find it to be one of his most uplifting songs. Especially from a guy who makes a ton of heart-wrenching, honest, kick-you-in-the-gut music and lyrics. It is amazing to me that this song is from 2001. I didn’t think it was that old. I chalk this up to a few things: 1) I don’t think I was actually listening to Ryan Adams then. Probably not until a few years after, perhaps when the Rock N Roll album came out. 2) Many of songs have this kind of timeless quality so that when you listen it’s not immediately reminiscent of any period in music. 3) Since I passed 35, everything seems like it just happened last week and I cannot believe how quickly time is actually passing. Today, it is specifically the awesome harmonica in this song that’s on replay in my brain. But I love singing the lyrics too, which I think stand alone as poetic. They just get even better with his twangy voice. I like the opening lines the best, with all the alliteration: “Black bird slow and softly breaks a glass of wine/ Broken bluesy whisper sing to me tonight/Well everybody wants to go forever/I just want to burn up hard and bright/I just wanna be your firecracker/Maybe be your baby tonight.” Sweet. Coincidentally, I just started reading a book called “Brain on Fire” which is a memoir about a New York Post reporter’s battle to diagnose and overcome a brain inflammation that caused her to become psychotic and almost killed her. It’s a compelling read, and the author — Susannah Cahalan — repeatedly mentions Ryan Adams and his music, as something she loved before her illness and found comforting during her recovery. Thankfully, I have no such brain inflammation, but his songs do have the ability to burn bright in my mind.

 

 

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