Closure! Ryan Adams Writes NY Times Essay about “Summer of ‘69” Heckler
Ryan Adams has finally made his peace with an episode of 15 years ago that made him out to be somewhat humorless.
In a debut headlining show at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium in 2002, Adams was repeatedly heckled by an audience member to play Bryan Adams’ 1984 single “Summer Of ’69.” “Angry” Adams famously walked off stage to ask the audience member to leave. Adams (Ryan, that is) has been asked about the incident numerous times in interviews, but has now written a piece for the New York Times explaining it from his perspective. An excerpt reads:
“I finally had enough and piped up: ‘Who is it? Who is shouting? Tell me who it is!’ I asked the person to raise his hand so I could see him. He did not. Finally people pointed furiously to a seat not far from me in the front. I walked down the few wooden steps in front of the stage to the aisle where all the fingers pointed.
“By the time I got there, I was so angry. I felt humiliated, but what else could be done? Either way I had lost something. Unlike a more seasoned comic or musician, I didn’t have the experience to ignore a situation like this, or to use wit to turn it around. I felt a kind of disappointment and disillusionment that I had never known — and it was in front of a thousand-plus people.
“As I approached the heckler’s wooden pew, I was shocked. He was only a few years older than me. Unshaven, bleary-eyed. He had on a baseball hat and seemed so drunk that his limbs hung from his sides like a broken doll. His eyes were like two poached eggs waiting to break. The anger left me, and I instantly felt bad. No one was there for this man. No one stopped him.
“I said, ‘Hey man, if you were trying to ruin the show you succeeded, but I need to try and finish this — it’s my job.’ I pulled out two $20 bills and said: ‘Here is your money, please take a taxi and leave here. Go home and take an aspirin. Please. Leave.’
“I walked back to the stage. People applauded. The fourth wall was destroyed in the worst possible way. But this moment, where I decided to do what the security and the people around him would not, felt genuine. It is what I would have done if I were in the audience.”
It’s all very dramatic, but that’s how Adams is. He’s since made his peace with the song itself, playing a solo acoustic version at the Ryman in 2014. No one asked him too. But when he did, everyone cheered. Heck, he’s used to doing covers anyway! Here’s a video of Ryan Adams playing ‘Summer of ‘69’.
In his NY Times essay, Ryan reveals his favorite Bryan song is actually “Run To You”. Ryan Adams’ new album, Prisoner, is out February 17. There are no Bryan Adams songs on it.