Top 10 Ryan Adams Songs

Ryan Adams Songs

Our top 10 Ryan Adams songs list digs deep into the music of a multi-talented American artist well-known for his influence in the rock and country scene. Born in 1974, Ryan Adams has established himself as a singer-songwriter, poet, and record producer. The singer-songwriter is a skilled harmonica, piano, and guitar player too. While still a teenager, Ryan Adams played music in local bands.

His most notable early work was playing music for his high school band, The Patty Duke Syndrome. After the act disbanded, Ryan Adams teamed up with a few friends to form the band Whiskeytown. The band shifted from punk rock to alternative country, inspired by Gram Parsons, among other country legends. One of the band’s most popular albums includes Strangers Almanac (1997).

After releasing its third studio album, Pneumonia (1999), Ryan Adams left Whiskeytown to venture into a solo career. His solo career was marked by the release of his debut album Heartbreaker (2000). The album’s hit “Oh My Sweet Carolina” featured Emmylou Harris on the backing vocals. Despite the album sale not being voluminous, Heartbreaker (2000) was considered a successful album by music critics.

Ryan Adams later released his sophomore studio album Gold (2001). Gold (2001) blended rock and alternative country elements. This Gold-certified album catapulted Ryan Adams to success, rising to the twentieth position on the UK Albums Chart. Some of the musical gems include “New York, New York,” “When the Stars Go Blue,” and “Answering Bell.”

The following year, Ryan Adams released an album by the title Demolition. Demolition (2002) didn’t sell as many copies as Gold (2001). However, it earned Ryan Adams more critical attention. In 2002, Ryan Adams started his career as a producer. His first work as a producer was The Fine Art of Self Destruction (2002) by rock artist Jesse Malin. Ryan Adams and Jesse Malin later teamed up to form the hardcore punk ensemble, The Finger.

Ryan Adams recorded more solo albums, winning multiple awards in different categories. In 2005, he formed a backing band, The Cardinals, only to disband it after he released four LPs with the band. He later formed a new backing band, The Shining and his record label PAX AM where he released his eponymous 2014 album. Ryan Adams (2014) was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Rock Album category. However, the album lost to Morning Phase (2014) by Beck. Another notable work by Ryan Adams is his 2015 album under the title 1989. The album featured Taylor Swift cover songs.

Throughout his career, Ryan Adams has released eighteen solo studio albums. His most recent album releases include Wednesday (2020) and Big Colors (2021). As a producer, Ryan Adams has worked with several reputable artists. Some of the artists include Willie Nelson, Fall Out Boy, Jenny Lewis, and Jesse Malin. Ryan Adams has also collaborated with Toots and the Maytals, Counting Crows, Norah Jones, Cowboy Junkies, Weezer, and Beth Orton. Here we present the best Ryan Adams songs.

#10 – Lucky Now

Our number ten song on the top 10 Ryan Adams songs is the stunning hit “Lucky Now.” The song is the lead track to Ashes & Fire (2011). Ryan Adams revealed that the song is based on his time in New York during his twenties. The alt-country artist had penned this reflective track initially about The Cardinals’ bassist Chris Feinstein who has passed away. However, he found the initial version too direct, changing the song’s subject to himself. “Lucky Now” topped the Billboard Adult Alternative Songs chart.

#9 – Wildest Dreams

“Wildest Dreams” is one of the best Ryan Adams songs from his cover album 1989 (2015). Taylor Swift released this dazzling hit in her 2014 album 1989. Ryan Adams turns the spirited synth-pop power ballad by Taylor Swift into a ravishing alternative country/indie rock ballad. His performance on the song feels a little more nostalgic yet brilliant thanks to the melodic guitars licks employed. Critics lauded Ryan Adams for releasing this Taylor Swift’s pop ballad with a Smiths style.

#8 – Do You Still Love Me?

The number eight track on our top 10 Ryan Adams songs list is the charming AC/DC, and Prince-inspired hit “Do You Still Love Me?” The song is featured on Ryan Adams’s studio album Prisoner (2017). “Do You Still Love Me?” is an epic power ballad that alludes to a heartbreak. Ryan Adams penned the lyrics to this track when undergoing a divorce from Mandy Moore. While he doesn’t refer directly to his breakup with Mandy Moore, the song’s lyrics depict the painful aftermath of his breakup.

#7 – Bad Blood

“Bad Blood” is yet another cover song by Ryan Adams from his album 1989 (2015). Taylor Swift’s version was six times Platinum-certified in the US, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Her remix version with legendary rapper and songwriter Kendrick Lamar was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance category. However, it lost to “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars. Ryan Adams unleashes hypnotizing vocals on his cover version of the song. Without a doubt, “Bad Blood” by Ryan Adams is the crowning glory of Taylor Swift’s  country-influenced covers.

#6 – Gimme Something Good

Coming at number six on the top 10 Ryan Adams songs is the luscious bluesy track “Gimme Something Good.” The song was released as the opening and lead track to Ryan Adams’s 2014 eponymous album. Ryan delivers a barrelling voice supplemented by the far-reaching guitar riffs employed on the track. “Gimme Something Good” was nominated for two Grammy Awards in the Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance categories. However, it lost to “Ain’t It Fun” by Paramore and “Lazaretto” by Jack White, respectively.

#5 – Everybody Knows

“Everybody Knows” is a tempestuous guitar-driven gem by the rock/alt-country singer Ryan Adams. The song is one of the popular tracks off his ninth studio album Easy Tiger (2007). Ryan Adams teamed up with Neal Casal, Brad Pemberton, and Jon Graboff in penning the lyrics to this simple yet emotion-filled ballad. “Everybody Knows” is one of his best works with his backing band, The Cardinals. The brilliance of the late bassist Chris Feinstein and guitarist Neal Casal is evident in this song.

#4 – To Be Without You

Prisoner (2017) is home to several masterpiece releases by the iconic alt-country musician Ryan Adams. Most of the musical gems on the album find the singer alluding to his divorce from his beloved former wife, Mandy Moore. “To Be Without You” is a sombre ballad whose inspiration was the aftermath of Ryan Adams’ divorce.

The singer exhibits how loneliness and sadness have been stabbing him since the departure of his beloved wife. Ryan Adams revealed on an Instagram post that he felt so broken penning this sad ode. However, releasing the song gave him some relief and peace of mind.

#3 – Wonderwall

The number three track on our top 10 Ryan Adams songs is the cover hit “Wonderwall.” Yes, this is the same song that was a huge groundbreaking hit for Oasis. “Wonderwall” was penned by Noel Gallagher, who collaborated with Owen Morris in the production of the song and its parent album (What’s the Story) Morning Glory (1995).

The song’s lyrics find the singer describing a fictional associate who will save come to the aid of the subject person. Ryan Adams released the cover of this song on his fifth studio album, Love is Hell (2004). Other cover versions of the song were released by Paul Anka and the Mike Flowers Pops band.

#2 – Lovesick Blues

“Lovesick Blues” is a popular 1921 song that several artists have paid homage to in recent decades. Initially, the lyrics to the song were penned by Irving Mills, while Cliff Friend composed the music to the song. Ryan Adams recorded his rendition to the iconic ode in 2001. His version was released on Timeless, a Hank Williams tribute album.

Other artists who have released a rendition to the song include Mason Ramsey, George Strait, Little Richard, Frank Ifield, Linda Ronstadt, Hank Williams, and Patsy Cline. Ryan Adams saw this ode nominated for a Grammy Award on the Best Male Country Vocal Performance category. However, he lost the award to “O Death” by Ralph Stanley.

#1- New York, New York

Number one on the top 10 Ryan Adams songs list is the ballad “New York, New York.” This rhythmic alternative country song is featured on his album Gold (2001). Ryan Adams revealed that the song alludes to both New York and a lady who resided in the city. Initially, Ryan Adams moved to the city to get closer to his then-girlfriend.

Ryan Adams was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Male Rock Vocal Performance category. However, he lost the award to “Dig In” by Lenny Kravitz. Gold (2001) was also nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Rock Album category. He lost to All That You Can’t Leave Behind (2000) by U2. “New York, New York” peaked at number fifty-three on the UK Singles Chart.

Photo: Raph_PH, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Top 10 Ryan Adams Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022

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