Ryan Adams 1989 covers Taylor Swift

Ryan Adams 1989 album cover

Ryan Adams has released a track-by-track cover of Taylor Swift's album 1989 and it raises great questions about songwriting and production. Most songs can be reduced to three things: lyrics, melody, and chord progression. The rest is arrangement, performance, production, recording techniques and so often the music industry turns great songs into lousy tracks.

Drinking at a bar in Canmore Alberta last year I had a heated debate with a music nerd in which I defended Taylor Swift. I said she is a good songwriter. Some people just don't like pop and country music. I don't listen to her music other than to teach it to my guitar students but I appreciate so many of her songs. I don't listen to it myself because I'm not the demographic. It doesn't reach me lyrically. But songs like Whitehorse are great songs because they tell a story that so many people relate to and they do it with strong melodies.

But when I heard the singles from her 1989 album I had trouble hearing past all the slick pop production. I was disappointed.

But now I can finally listen to Taylor Swift, thanks to Ryan Adams. Stripped of all the pop production that makes you feel like you're in a 1980s shopping mall, we can now hear human beings play these songs on real instruments and it sounds great.

Rumour was that Adams was making his covers in the style of The Smiths. It sounds much more like Springsteen though. Especially the acoustic tracks like “Welcome to New York” which sound like they could be from Springsteen's excellent Nebraska album.

Adams told Rolling Stone magazine "It's not a reimagining or a reconstruction at all. It's a parallel universe. That's how I think of it. We're creating an alternate universe, like in Marvel Comics.... It wasn't like I wanted to change them because they needed changing," he says. "But I knew that if I sang them from my perspective and in my voice, they would transform."

"Glories" live at IPO with Elza

Here's a new video from a gig last week. Performing with Elza at the International Pop Overthrow Festival in Vancouver this is her song "Glories." I hope to be playing with Elza a lot more in the coming months. Elza writes great songs with very unique guitar parts that have been fun for me to play.

Clare Coughlan & Blue Morris "New House"

Puppies and guitars! Our latest video features Ringo and Rubee. Clare Coughlan has been taking guitar lessons with me for a while now. She's getting so good she's now getting paid gigs in town! It helps she's a great singer too!

In this video Clare and I perform her original song "New House" in some of the rooms of Clare's beautiful new home while our dogs get up to their usual shenanigans.

Lonestar Guitar Cover at the Airstream

A couple weeks ago I took a guitar for a few nights on Pender Island and stayed in a vintage Airstream trailer. While there we figured we would take some video of my playing around and trying out my singing chops.

So here's my acoutic guitar cover of Norah Jones' Lonestar.

Read more: Lonestar Guitar Cover at the Airstream

58 Instruments that Made Rolling Stone's Top 100 Songs of All Time

Thanks to Berklee for bringing this cool infographic to my attention. They've illustrated the instruments used in each and every one of the Rolling Stone top 100 songs. While a large percentage of the selection use guitar, bass, and drums (no surprise here), the 58 instruments in the graphic go beyond the expected. From the swarmandal The Beatles used in “Strawberry Fields Forever” to the castanets in The Ronettes’, “Be My Baby,” and mouth harp in The Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations,” these classic songs tap into more than the typical standby sounds.