10 years ago I drove up with my dad to go see Ryan Adams and the Cardinals play at the Calvin Theater in Northampton, Mass., a hippie oasis out in the sticks of western Massachusetts. I had just bought Cold Roses and was really getting into his music. Before the show we went to a local Starbucks just a short walk over from the venue, and inside was a guy in all denim waiting in line for coffee. He kind of stuck out, but this was Northampton, and everyone looked like a rock star or homeless. But a closer look and I noticed that it was Ryan Adams, though I barely recognized him because he was in his beard-and-long-hair-drugged-out-Jerry-Garcia phase.
I told my dad that I think that’s Ryan Adams, but I was too chicken to approach him because I had read that he was sort of an asshole. So I bolted to the bathroom. Meanwhile, I step outside, and my dad is sitting out front of Starbucks casually talking to Ryan Adams. I sit down, and notice that he has a Motorola Razor, which at the time in 2005 was top of the line for cellphones. He has a quick conversation with someone and then my dad tells him that I came to see his show. I remember him being very chill, and then we took an awkward photo together, which I have since misplaced.
Right before he left he asked me if there was a particular song I wanted to hear. I was kind of taken off guard, and gave a cop-out answer of one of his biggest songs, “To Be Young (Is to be high).” Then he walked off toward the venue. He ended up playing that song. Funny thing was I saw him again walking through the crowd in front of his own show, and no one seemed to notice him.