Chella unpacks complicated feelings about the fall of Ryan Adams. (Recorded 2/15/19)
Chella Negro Writes: (2/19/19) “Is it just me or is it so cruel that everything dies?” I’m listening to Ryan Adams right now. I’m doing this in part because I’m tired, it’s snowing and I’m a little sad and listening to Ryan Adams is what I do in those particular times. I’m also doing it to test myself, to test my feminist strength, to test my anger at a man who has so thoroughly let me down. And, you know what, the songs still make me cry and stir emotion inside me so intense that the music actually hurts. It’s been a week since the news broke that Ryan Adams was an abuser. He abused his position, he abused the women around him, and he was a spectacular liar duping a horde of devotees into buying into his fantasy of himself as a wounded, sensitive, charming loser. And it was a beautiful dream while it lasted. I found, in him, the measure of the songwriter I could be. I wanted not to date him but to be him. I, too, had had my ups and downs in love, in my personal life, and in my career. Ryan made it seem like all I had to do was keep working and keep digging through the trash of my experiences and I would certainly find the inspiration for that next great couplet. He inspired me.
His music took root in my bones. His lyrics spoke to me consistently. He personally soundtracked some of my most private moments. He sang to me as I cried myself to sleep, as I drove across the Midwest, as I danced and laughed with my friends, as I sat drinking by myself in a dive bar. I have so many memories tied to his music that it is nearly impossible to think of the last 15 years without a Ryan song spinning on the jukebox in my mind. As I begin to untangle his presence in my life following these terrible allegations, losing the songs makes me the saddest. I can agree with the public consensus that he is, indeed, a shit human being but I can’t let go of the songs yet.
Maybe I don’t have to. That’s the argument, right? Can you separate the artist from the art? Part of me thinks I can. Part of me believes that these songs belong to me. But then...I know men like him. I’ve been in similar situations these creative and brave women were in with men like him. I hate men like him. I fight against men like him. Fuck men like him.
I haven’t figured it out yet. Perhaps I never will come to a hard and fast decision on what Ryan Adams can mean to me now. It’s too soon to tell. I appreciate those that are giving me the time to process and jealous of those that can, with absolute certainty, declare him done and dead. This truly is harder now that it’s over.
My heart goes out to the women he hurt. I believe them and I support them. I’m glad that Ryan’s behavior has been brought into the light so that no other women will have to deal with his bullshit again. Maybe, just maybe, it’ll give pause to the next generation of Charming Losers, too. Here’s to hoping.