Artist – Ryan Adams
Album – Ryan Adams
Year – 2014
Genre – Rock
Ryan Adams has outdone himself with “Gimme Something Good.” It’s the absolute perfect blend of old school Tom Petty/Jackson Browne/Bruce Springsteen rock and roll values and the very unique and distinct modern style of raw and emotionally distraught songwriting. It’s quite a piece of work to hear; a song that simultaneously pulls out all the stops with a killer riff that you just don’t hear much anymore, but the pain you sense in Adams’ voice and the emotional punches that punctuate the song are the other half of the equation.
The opening riff doesn’t need explaining. It’s classic, bluesy, and boy is it kickin’. The guitar tone throughout just rings as clear as a bell but has that crunch we all love, like breakfast cereal. The keyboards backing Adams up only add to that blues atmosphere. You can picture him playing a song like this in a smoky club filled with neon and beer. But as soon as Adams starts singing, you know there’s more than meets the ear here.
His voice is smooth, and you definitely hear that hint of Jackson Browne in there. And there’s just as much weight to every word that Adams sings. His pained verses are only upped by his amazing prechorus:
All my life been shaking
Holding everything I have like it was broken
You can hear it in his voice. Life just has been throwing him blow after blow of misfortune, and day after day he so desperately wants it to end. He wants a chance. He wants a new start.
Gimme something good
What power there is in this line. He’s saying, “Please. Just for once I just want something good to happen to me. I want to be like the happy people I see around me every day. I want a lucky break, or a chance to love again. I just want to feel like myself again, because quite frankly, I haven’t in a long time.” That’s reading between the lines. That’s what I hear when Adams pleads this line over and over and over. It carries so much meaning not just for Adams, I suspect, but for me and those who hear the song as I do. It has a great deal of gravity for me because I relate to that sentiment very much, and I wish for those things too.
But that’s the funny thing. When the song shifts back to the bridge, you’re back in rocking out mode. It’s a delicate balance between high and low, but one that is pulled off with such talent that it doesn’t seem out of place or unnatural. When you hit the bridge, there’s a beautiful steel guitar passage that takes the passion of the chorus and puts it to music. By the time Adams finishes the song, you’re reaching for the replay button. It’s powerful musically and lyrically. Adams has all the touches of a talented songwriter who knows both his craft and himself. And that’s what matters most for an artist. Knowing yourself, who is often times, your audience. Sing to you. Sing for them.
Thanks for reading and listening! Let me know your thoughts below!