For years, Ryan Adams has trotted out some seriously unexpected covers during his live shows, turning songs like Iron Maiden’s “Wasted Years” and Danzig’s “Mother” into heartbreaking, bare-boned folk ballads. He tackled another old-school tune — Foreigner’s 1984 chart-topper “I Want to Know What Love Is” — during a recent performance on NPR’s World Cafe.
With his road band kicking up some slow-moving dust in the background, Adams crooned the song without a hint of irony, replacing the bombast of the original with something that’s tender, off-the-cuff and pretty moving. Listen to the song below.
Adams recently released his 14th album, a self-titled disc that puts the strummed acoustics of 2011’s Ashes & Fire on the back burner and channels the icy atmospherics of Eighties rock & roll instead. No wonder he decided to take a stab at Foreigner’s biggest hit. Meanwhile, he’s in the middle of a North American tour that runs until Thanksgiving, with Butch Walker joining him as the opening act.