Ryan Adams & The Cardinals :: Cardinology :: My Favorite Albums


Ryan Adams & the Cardinals :: Cardinology (2008)

At the core of who I am, and at the center of my musical soul, are a handful of artists, bands and musicians that are so intrinsic, so vital, so overwhelmingly part of who I am, how I see the world, how I feel that they almost feel a part of my DNA. In many ways I could list all of their albums as “my favorites“, and will probably end up doing just that eventually, so do not say I did not warn you. Ryan Adams is one of those artists, musicians, singers and songwriters, and his albums, they exist in the forever bends and folds of me. Today, it is his album with the Cardinals, Cardinology, that is spinning around in me. It is the album I cannot seem to get enough of today. It is vying for my attention, and I am more than happy to grant it, choosing Cardinology to be My Favorite Album this week. Following are my three-sentence stylings and rambling words per song to help explain, or just feel why.

Editor’s note: Most videos shared here will be live versions. I cannot encourage you enough to seek out and see Ryan live, if you have the opportunity. As much as I love his albums, it is his live performances that take me to the sky and back, and are truly unforgettable live music experiences.

Born Into a Light (live)

There is an innocence in all of us, something pure and untouched that most of us hide away from the world. Life has a way of darkening every corner, and sometimes we welcome the darkness, celebrate it, as we have room for both darkness and light, and need it really. But, the few, or the one, that we share that light in us with, there is meaning that cannot be articulated in that.

Go Easy (live)

Sometimes we are the hardest on ourselves than we are to anyone else. We hide ourselves, we let our needs go silent and numb, and we put on the facade of happiness because it is so scary to say we are not. I see it in myself and in people I love, and I want to tell them to take a breath, take a moment, love themselves enough to go easy on themselves, and to be okay with wanting to be happy.

Fix It (live)

Some things we cannot fix. Some things, and some people, we have to let go of. Sometimes we cannot give a good enough reason, but that is enough reason to know it is time to go.

Magick (live)

Energy and a staccatto fast, blood pumping energy that floods and flows, like running for your life, tearing the sheets off the bed with a new lover, or hiding away from monsters and mayhem – that is what this song feels like to me (especially played loudly). I love the Dawn of the Dead references. There is a juxtaposition between fear and sexuality, rock and roll and crazy passionate love, that I am digging the most.

Cobwebs (live)

We are far past forever, and three left turns from this is over, yet you still reach over to hold my hand. I could see the city lights fading in the rear view, the sting of tears beginning to dry, resentment finding a permanent residence in the back of my throat. You say that this is the start of something new, repeating “I love you” in a gone numb mutter, and I wonder if you even know who you are saying it to anymore.

Let Us Down Easy (demo)

It is when we open ourselves completely, cracking the decay and despair, bleeding freely all vulnerability and flawed beauty, that we really connect with others. We are drawn to each other’s truths, even though we live among so much deceit. We all need so much care, so much ease, yet we toss and turn, and hurt ourselves, and each other, over and over again.

Crossed-Out Name (live)

The streets closed in, buildings seeming to shift and push towards me, claustrophobia competing with the rejection and loss that was blinding me, binding me, stealing all my breath. There was so much unspoken, all of the “not said” somethings would dance and spin and turn in my head for so many nights after. We had x’s over our eyes and crosses hard pressed and sliced through our together name.

Natural Ghost (live)

Days and days kept passing with you on the other side of an ocean. Time became relative, turned upside down, differences in clock hands adding to the distance more than miles. When we did connect though, it felt as if part of me was floating, spinning through the wires and the ether and the cords, landing softly next to you.

Sink Ships (live)

The sun light interrupted our late morning moments together. The room was humid, filled up with the weight of words like temporary and let’s not talk about it anymore. Your hand was in my hair, tangling and tugging, pulling me closer than I would ever be again, our bodies sinking deeper into the too soft mattress, and into each other.

Evergreen (live)

Forever is a sticky stuck precarious promise to make, yet we long to make it, don’t we? What if we all just agreed to embrace today in all it glorious beauty and unavoidable normalcy (not that anything is normal), without having to jump start and gaze off into tomorrow? Would we be happier together, and within ourselves?

Like Yesterday (live)

We lay on the grass, quietly together, watching the sky cloud over. You said to no one in particular, “it looks like rain” and sighed softly. The rain never did appear, and we, well, we disappeared.


The phone call came in the middle of a Sunday. I remember the movie playing on the television screen, the shoes I was wearing, what I had been laughing at before I picked up the receiver. Everything stopped, except for the spinning in my head, when they said you were gone.




Leave a Reply