Ryan actually worked on a song with Swift back in 2012 when she was working on her album Red. She didn’t end up releasing the song, but the experience must have had an impact on Ryan because after listening to 1989, Adams made the decision to cover the entire album in his own style.
Adams revealed that while listening to 1989, he heard something in it that he wanted to explore with his own music. Ryan wanted to create something that would highlight what he heard.
“I had been listening to 1989 off and on, and I could hear what I thought was a sort of pain in there. Maybe I only just saw it that way, but I could hear the lyrics, and I thought, ‘There’s something in there, and I want to know how far it goes.'”
In Adams’ first attempt at remaking the album, he used a 1980s 4-track cassette deck that ended up malfunctioning and destroying the recordings completely. Ryan went on tour soon after that, postponing the project for months.
“Before I knew anything had happened, the tape had come loose inside, the machine grabbed it, and it was just so mangled.”
When Ryan began to post on social media about the project, he received a ton of positive feedback from fans, other artists, and even Taylor herself. Soon, the two were texting about the project and Swift was encouraging Adams to release the cover.
“Taylor was like, ‘Are you going to put this out? Because you should.'”
Adams’ take on the songs are definitely in stark contrast of Taylor’s versions. Ryan heard mystery and depth in her lyrics and wanted to bring that to light with his indie-rock style.
“That’s how I felt it: Mysterious and romantic, but, at the same time, brooding, with some sharp edges and a lot of fog, a lot of rain. I could feel all those things in me when I thought of her songs and the lyrics. I could feel them wanting to manifest in the arrangements.”
Adams admits that remaking 1989 was a freeing experience for him and he gained much more from the undertaking than he had anticipated. Ryan expressed how recording the album helped him.
“I’m a singer-songwriter diving into somebody’s work, which felt really liberating. I had so much on my mind and so much in my heart and soul that, bizarrely, singing her songs on that record, I could let go even a little more than I have on my own stuff lately. Somehow, it let me say some stuff I really needed to say that I didn’t even know I needed to say.”
You can get the Ryan Adams cover of 1989 on iTunes.
[Photo Courtesy of Larry Busacca/Getty Images]