Blog

Heard it From Ryan, Who, Heard It From Taylor, Who, Heard it from Gary You've Been Messin' Around - by Colin G.

My first thought at hearing that Ryan Adams had covered Taylor Swift's album 1989 was, "Well hell, Ryan is trying to bang Taylor." Come on, you know it's true. Why does any forty-something dude suddenly pander to a hot woman half his age? I know it seems extreme but that's just how those types roll. Ryan staying up for three days covering every Taylor song and hiring a publicist is like you or me winking at somebody on Match. Besides, Ryan loves him some famous women, and it doesn't hurt his profile to attach himself to the most popular "songwriter" on the planet.  Or, put another way, when Michael Jordan bets $200,000 on an 8-foot putt it seems shocking to folks like you and me,  but that's just how the other 1% lives. 

If you want Taylor's cell #, you better cover 1989 and get it reviewed on NPR. 

Well done, Ryan. I bet he and Taylor are texting each other right now.

Speaking of NPR, suddenly all the smart people are referring to Taylor Swift as a brilliant songwriter. So much in fact that I had to go revisit the credits on 1989. This is not a commentary  on the quality of Taylor Swift or the record 1989, but Taylor Swift is NOT a great songwriter. Not in the traditional sense anyway.  For starters, the record 1989 has, and I am not bullshitting or exaggerating, TWELVE CREDITED PRODUCERS. Is that a record for a record?

And more importantly, every single song has multiple songwriters except one. Once again, I'm not arguing this Taylor isn't a talented performer worthy of her fame, but when we start tossing around the term "great songwriters" on NPR, it's not typically songs with 3 other writers. Like say: Bob Dylan, Jeff Tweedy, Bruce Springsteen, Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, Pete Townshend, Ray Davies, Elvis Costello or every other great songwriter in the history of pop music. (And I'm not talking established songwriting partners Lieber/Stroller, Lennon/McCartney, Jagger/Richards; Taylor employs random hired guns ala Bon Jovi hiring Desmond Child.)

Or, put another way, how would credits to "Like a Rolling Stone" look if it said: Written by Bob Dylan, Larry Schmultz, Dewey Johnson and Frank Cass. Produced by Dylan, J-Swizz, Funky Free and Alan Horowitz.  Doesn't quite make Bob look like such a great songwriter, now does it? 

Or another way: When Taylor puts out a hit record written by herself, she can get credit for being a great songwriter. Until then she will just have to settle for just being the most popular entertainer on the planet. No shame in that.  (editor's note: On her earlier, ostensibly "country" records - before her current pop-tart phase - Swift often did write alone, or with one collaborator. Now that she has chosen the Nicki Minaj route to fame, however, somebody's gotta program those beats, and they want label credit.)

Do you know who wrote a bigger hit all by himself than either Ryan Adams or Taylor Swift? Yup, you guessed it, the recently deceased Gary Richrath from REO Speedwagon. 

Could you imagine if Ryan or Taylor wrote the song "Take It on the Run?" It would rule the world for months. Say what you want about REO, but this is one of the great opening lines in pop-rock history: "Heard it from a friend, who, heard it from a friend, who, heard it from another you've been messin' around." I remember being a kid and turning the FM dial and hearing it on three stations at once: 92.3, 96.3 and 97.9. Mind blowing!

RIP Gary Richrath, who wrote this massive hit all by his lonesome.