. . .
After the relative focus of Heartbreaker, Ryan Adams’ next album was intended to be his breakthrough, which it both was and wasn’t, a big sprawling double-album that would show off all of his many moods and gifts. That album, of course, was called Gold, and it remains his best-selling record, two decades on.
Gold had the bad luck to come out in two weeks of the 9/11 terror attacks, when people were still trying to figure out if they should be paying attention to pop culture, and it had the good luck to have as its opening song and lead single a song called “New York, New York,” which featured a video shot just a few days prior to the attacks, and featured a lot of footage of Ryan performing with the twin towers of the World Trade Center in the background. This, of course, wasn’t through any sense of prescience, but it was kinda just what you did.
In any event “New York, New York” was Ryan’s biggest hit, making it to #18 on Billboard’s Adult chart, but it was not really enough of a turn-of-the-century pop song to even crack the top 100 pop charts, stalling out at #112. It’s also a perfectly fine song, though not really one of my favorites from Gold. Those would be the jaunty “Firecracker,” the epic “Nobody Girl,” which I love musically and dislike lyrically and the album’s unmitigated triumph, “Rescue Blues,” which blends folk-rock guitars, a gospelish choir and a second-person lyric that’s really a first person lyric.
And everybody wants you to be special
And everybody wants you to be high
They throw you down a rope when you’re in
Screamin’, “save me”
Then they charge you with the rescue blues
Oh, the rescue blues, oh
With keyboards by Benmont Tench, and the rhythm section and crawling lead guitar provided by producer Ethan Johns — the son of the great Glyn Johns — “Rescue Blues” packs the feel of an epic song into just a little over three and a half minutes, getting bigger and bigger as it goes on. It peaks with the bridge, as Ryan’s voice breaks as he sings “that’s why they love to getchu hiiiii-hiiiiigh” as Johns’ guitar spins around and the choir — which includes ringer Adam Duritz — oohs and ahhhs in the background.
“The Rescue Blues”
“The Rescue Blues” live in 2001
“The Rescue Blues” Live in Jamaica, 2012
Did you miss a Certain Song? Follow me on Twitter: @barefootjim
The Certain Songs Database
A filterable, searchable & sortable somewhat up to date database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.
Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)
Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page