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Adams takes advantage of YouTube craze

James Costa | Tuesday, February 12, 2008

In this ever-burgeoning age of technological innovation and advancement, several popular musicians have turned to the Web, namely super popular video-sharing service YouTube.com, to share a few of the more obscure elements of their personal lives and artistry. One singer-songwriter with a particularly impressive YouTube account is the famously prolific Cardinals front man, Ryan Adams.

Adams’ account, titled “Horion74,” provides a fascinating insight into just how weirdly talented and excited the guy is. With more than 30 videos available, the Jacksonville, N.C., native offers everything from acoustic songs filmed in his New York City bedroom to tours of the Hollywood Hills with none other than Mandy Moore, who seems adorably confused by Adams’ assertion that Los Angeles was originally founded by pirates and spaceships.

One of the more brilliant moments found within the account Horion74 is Adams’ acoustic version of the song “Everybody Knows” off of the Cardinals’ most recent record “Easy Tiger.” Clearly engaged in a subtle but playful mockery of the thousands of YouTube users who film themselves covering (usually quite badly) famous songs in the privacy of their bedrooms and basements, Adams works through a rather butchered version of his own song as if he were just an average guy with a guitar, a video camera and a YouTube account trying to emulate himself. It’s restrained comic brilliance.

A lot of the movies are weird and eccentric, to say the least. Most have a decidedly low-budget feel. It’s likely that all were made only with the help of invaluable tools available to Adams on his Apple iBook – Garage Band and iMovie. Yet he uses the tools he’s got to achieve a kitschy but endearing effect, showing how his rock star life is filled with the same bizarre and peculiar thoughts and impulses that the everyday artsy weirdo experiences.

Of course, Adams could not avoid the subjects of heartbreak and emotional misery that dominate most of his official CD releases. A number of the videos are focused on his recent breakup with the redheaded Banana Republic model and writer Jessica Joffe.

Apparently, the whole breakup didn’t go well, and Joffe blocked Adams’ cell phone and e-mail. In an effort to show her how sad he was, he started the YouTube account and loaded the video “Sad Days.” Mainly just a slideshow of pictures of Jessica backed by sad music, the video was quickly taken down because “it was just too painful,” as Adams wrote in the site’s artist information area.

However, Adams quickly came up with a few new sad ideas and posted them. These videos, titled “Like Yesterday,” “I’m a Sad Person,” and “Broken Arrow” hit at the same emotional core as did “Sad Days.” This is especially true in “Like Yesterday,” where he sings, “With a belly full of sleeping pills / with a little less pain / oh it doesn’t feel like yesterday.” The songs are reminiscent of the darkest moments Adams has shown us before on albums like “Heartbreaker,” “Love is Hell,” and “29.” So for those who enjoy getting their heart all ripped up by Ryan’s sadness, these songs are for you.

Much of the material is quirky and odd. Yet it’s refreshing to get a glimpse into the life of an artist that hasn’t been already filtered by record companies and the media. So check it out, it’s a great mix of some pretty stark sadness mixed with bizarre home video fun.