Addendum – Ryan Adams: Losering, A Story of Whiskeytown by David Menconi


So now that I’m FINALLY done reviewing Ryan Adams, an endeavor I began way the hell back in October 2011 when I first started my Whiskeytown page, I thought I’d – oh SHIT I forgot to review all his DJ Reggie stuff! HOLD ON A SECOND

Anyway, as I was saying, I’d like to take a brief moment to acknowledge one final part of the ever-expanding DRA puzzle, and that’s David Menconi’s book Ryan Adams: Losering, A Story of Whiskeytown, which came out last year. David has worked at the Raleigh Observer since 1991, so he was right in the middle of it all when Ryan and Whiskeytown first started getting attention. In fact, David himself was a big part of why they started getting attention in the first place – as he reveals in the book, he wrote about them so much that they had to start blurring out some of the bylines in their PR packet because his name was on so many of them. This, of course, made him the ideal personal to chronicle the rise and fall of Whiskeytown. He had such a wealth of source interviews, memories, and stories that he’s probably been telling for the past 15 years to draw on from the old days that the book was bound to be unfailingly entertaining to any serious fan.

If the book has a theme, it’s the evolution of Ryan’s petulant persona and how it increasingly came to shape his career despite its less than sincere origins. As someone who has always thought Ryan seemed like a total prick (can’t say I’m alone in that, eh?), the book really confirmed to me how incredibly self-conscious and phony his whole act is. Not that this was Menconi’s intention, of course – but his subject is a guy who would act like this exaggerated hedonistic Keith Richards character and then drop it when nobody was looking, and who would carry around interview answers he had formulated before he had ever been interviewed, all in service of projecting an image. This is all underscored by the glimpses we get into Ryan before and between the moments he had fully built up his persona, which are endearing. Either way, reading all the old stories, about everything from the time Ryan first tried but failed to lose his virginity, to any number of now-infamous on-stage train wrecks, is a lot of fun. When Menconi steps back to discuss the music, I can’t say I always agree with him (and what would be the fun in that?), but his ability to recreate the excitement he felt at hearing Whiskeytown in those early days, and his love for and creative interpretation of Strangers Almanac, is infectious (but I still think it’s only worthy of a B+. Sorry, David). Unfortunately, he and Ryan fell out in 2001 over a less than effusive review of Gold (a record David and I agree is pretty mediocre! Hurrah!), so their lack of contact means the last decade of Ryan’s solo career is severely glossed over. So I hope someone writes a sequel! Seriously, I would be legitimately fascinated to find out what the hell Ryan was on to make him think Rock N Roll was a good idea (oh right, it was smack. I forgot).

David was kind enough to link to my DRA reviews several times on his blog about the book, so I would be remiss not to do the same. And here’s the Amazon link for the book again. Buy that thing!

One Comment

  1. […] catalog. He seems to write about Ryan quite frequently (and he was also kind enough to review “Losering”). His response to this […]