I want to start this by saying: fuck you Ryan Adams. I believe every word of your victims and I imagine there may be many more out there. You have let down everyone who knows you and all your fans and you should be ashamed. Your attempt at an apology was complete bullshit too. Making amends cannot be done with a tweet.
I admit I haven’t suffered like the women who actually knew him but I am hurting today. I feel like a victim too and I know many other fans will be there with me. I am waking up to the fact I have been in a toxic relationship with this artist for nearly twenty years. But I’m done defending him, excusing him, overlooking his behaviour because the music matters to me. I’m done being in denial. I’m done.
If you have always hated Ryan Adams and this was no shock to you then I applaud you. But not all of us were that smart. Some of us were in love with the music so much that we didn’t see straight. We made excuses because he made us feel good. Maybe there’s another artist you feel this way about. Or if you’ve ever been in this kind of relationship then you will understand that even when someone hurts you or make mistakes you can overlook them, forgive them because what you get out of it matters more than anything else. The songs mattered more than anything else. The damn songs. They will never be the same again.
It’s not easy to cope with the truth, even if it has been under your nose the whole time. Everyone knew he was an asshole. Everyone. The list of awful, obnoxious incidents is a mile long. But us fans forgave him for his outbursts, his online rants, his ridiculous behaviour. Most geniuses are madmen! He was our genius madman! And he was an addict. It wasn’t his fault! His crazy behaviour somehow made the music more raw. He went to dark places and came back with songs for us. We weren’t the ones being hurt in the process so we didn’t stop to really listen. We saw glimpses of the worst but at the same time we chose not to care. I met him once and he was so kind to me. He couldn’t be a bad person! How naive and foolish.
I’m not going to give you a full rundown of the extent of my Ryan Adams fandom because it is too depressing for me to contemplate everything I have invested in him emotionally and financially right now. Thankfully for me our relationship has been slowly ebbing away over the last few years. I did not love his last two albums the same way as I did before. Maybe it was the way he acted during his divorce or maybe the dawning of the truth had begun. Then there was a song called ‘Chaos and Clothes’ by Jason Isbell which caused serious alarm bells in my head. The truth about Ryan was in that song and in Motion Sickness by Phoebe Bridgers. But still I didn’t want to hear it.
At this point I also have to be honest and admit that I have known about the Phoebe Bridgers situation for a while. I believed her but I still didn’t quit him. I wasn’t ready. And I’m sorry about that. I truly am. I love her music. I hope she understands and can forgive me for being part of the whole fucking hero worshipping problem.
So yes, I did know some of the truth and I was to an extent waiting on this story, while at the same time hoping the day of reckoning would never arrive. But here it is. To read the accusations of emotional manipulation and disturbing behaviour towards someone underage was like a punch in the gut. One I had needed for a long time. And it hurts, sure but compared to what he’s done to these women what I am feeling is nothing. This was not some tabloid gossip either. This was the New York Times. No more hiding places are available.
The first two testimonies shocked me to my core and I broke down when reading Mandy Moore’s story. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been to go on record with his unreasonable behaviour. I have loved her and respected her for a long time. I was surprised but happy when they got married and unsurprised when they ultimately divorced. Deep down I knew this guy was not someone you could ever trust or rely on. But I didn’t stop listening.
A few weeks ago I preordered the new album, which was to be one of three he planned to release in 2019. I paid £45. And I would have bought tour tickets if I hadn’t been going on holiday that week. I was angry about the VIP packages he was offering, which seemed like a rip off. Yesterday he then tweeted he was going to quit unless the shows sold out. He was threatening his own fans. I knew he had been involved in petulant spats before but this was a new low. But it wasn’t rock bottom. Not by a long way. The accusations printed later that day were multiple and devastating.
I know some people don’t care about what an artist does and can separate the art. I can separate the art but I won’t do it anymore. I won’t support abusers by listening to their music and pretending I don’t know the truth. Maybe some fans don’t even think being an emotional abuser is that much of a big deal but they are dead wrong. And to those who don’t believe the stories I say this: stop living in denial. Time’s up. We need to believe women. Let’s actually give a damn about morality and decency. It isn’t hard to be a good person or to support the art made by good people. It really isn’t hard. If we take a stand then maybe we can start to fix some of the damage caused and make people think twice about behaving this way in the future.
I’m grateful for the women who spoke up and gave me strength to realise the toxic grip this man has had on me too. Thank you and I’m so sorry.