He begins adjusting the sound levels on the mixing board but becomes irritated by the overhead lights and asks if they can be dimmed. "Am I being a diva?" he asks. "I feel like I'm being treated for colon cancer."
All of Adams' rants are delivered with tongue firmly in cheek. He makes it clear that he's tweaking his own image as the It Boy, the Moody Artiste. But at the same time, however much he tries to downplay it, everyone in the room is an extra in the Ryan Adams Show. And however mock-rant his rants are, they have the same effect as a real rant: He gets his way.
"I didn't want to be a star," he insists. "I still don't. I'm happy right here. I hope it doesn't get offered to me, because I'll just say no. There's no glory in this for me. Usually, I just want the person I wrote the song for to hear it.
"I mean, I love rock & roll, I love playing it," he continues. "But I have a really freaky idea about, someday, calling up a friend in New York and going, 'Hey, I'll meet you at Alt-Coffee on Avenue A. And then we'll head off to some theater and see my play.' And I'm just a dude. Nobody knows me. Like Larry Brown or Eudora Welty" (two Mississippi writers). "They could walk into a store and nobody knew who they were. They could just go get a beer, listen to Coltrane. That's cool."
Adams stares off wistfully and grins. "Putting your left foot on a monitor speaker, in leather pants and a muscle shirt, singing, 'Can you take me higher' to 100,000 people? That's not cool. That's boring. You're obviously doing something wrong."
This story is from the November 8th, 2001 issue of Rolling Stone.
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