The day is finally here! At midnight on Monday (Sept. 21), Ryan Adams released his track-for-track cover album of Taylor Swift's 1989 via Apple Music and on YouTube, which he's been teasing since early August. We've been dying to hear it. Taylor's been looking forward to it, too.
Adams posted snippets of his time in the studio on social media throughout August and September, allowing us to get a general vibe for how dreamy and delirious the reworked songs would be. But we didn't know how good it would be until we heard the whole thing. We had an intuition, sure, but man, these songs are insanely better in full than in 15-second samples.
And we learned a whole lot listening to it.
The real cover art is even cooler than the teased ones.
A Sonic Youth reference and a lol-worthy Swiftie Photoshop were great, too, but nothing matches the tone of this grand opus like the weary, gorgeous, washed-out image above. Plus, gull noises open the album on "Welcome To New York," so it's fitting (and it matches Taylor's shirt on the original cover.)
He omits the "nightmare dressed like a daydream" line in "Blank Space" (but adds strings).
This is what separates Adams' 1989 from another spot-on cover version you might see on YouTube: it's real. The emotions are just as palpable, and he sells them just as he would on his own original recordings. Singing that line would make it seem kitschy or glib, and that's not the point. Adams also throws in "so goddamn reckless" in the chorus too, just for good measure.
"Welcome To New York" was always meant as a windows-down, summer-rock anthem.
Taylor's version is peppy, full of the glee that comes from entering the Big Apple for the first time. But Adams takes that giddiness, amplifies the sh-t out of it and busts the door down with the massive energy. It's been waiting for you (to cruise the highway and feel the rush of wind on your skin).
It's loaded with references to his favorite bands.
"Shake It Off" might secretly be one of the saddest songs of all time.
In Adams' hands, "Shake It Off" transforms into a mopey, introspective ballad about struggling to find the strength to ignore your worst fears about yourself. "I stay up too late/ Got nothing in my brain" suddenly becomes very real -- too real -- when it drips from Adams' mouth like a sneer. The music is ridiculously pretty though, which somehow makes the message all the more heartbreaking.
He didn't do it alone.
Seriously, there are string sections on so many songs.
There's something about Adams as a musician that always conveys yearning, and there's no better way to represent that musically than with violins and cellos. "Are we out of the woods?" becomes a serious question, but the asking becomes more complex. Do we even want to be out just yet?
Taylor has supported it from the beginning.
She first found out the news on Twitter (of course) and promptly freaked out. And she's pushed it on social media several times since, including posting the awesome cover art four days ago. We haven't heard from her yet today, so we can only assume she's locked herself in a room and looped the album for hours. I pretty much did.
Did Adams really write "Bad Blood" all along?
OK, totally JK. But seriously -- how did this not end up on his self-titled album from last year as an original composition? And that's the ultimate beauty of this project, that all 13 songs sounds entirely new, despite being almost a year old at this point.
He's respectful to the source material -- and that matters.
These aren't 13 ironic covers. It's not a parody project. No one is making fun of anyone. Ryan Adams' 1989 is bursting with love for Taylor Swift's 1989, and you can tell. The small details -- the sweet serenade of "Out Of The Woods," the aching guitar notes in "I Wish You Would" -- matter the most. Adams knows that, and with these songs, he proves once again that it matters to everyone who hears them (and who falls right back in love with them), too.
What did you learn from this new take on 1989? Let us know below!