Heartbreaker (Ryan Adams album)

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Studio album by Ryan Adams
Released September 5, 2000
Recorded Woodland Studios, Nashville, Tennessee
Genre Alternative country, country
Length 51:57
Label Bloodshot
Producer Ethan Johns
Ryan Adams chronology

Heartbreaker is the debut solo studio album by alternative country musician Ryan Adams, released September 5, 2000 on Bloodshot Records. The album was recorded over fourteen days at Woodland Studios in Nashville, Tennessee. It was nominated for the 2001 Shortlist Music Prize. The album is said to be inspired by Adams' break-up with music-industry publicist Amy Lombardi.[1]

According to Adams, the album's title originates from a poster of Mariah Carey: "My manager called and said, 'You have 15 seconds to name this record,' "My eyes focused on this poster of Mariah wearing a T-shirt that said HEARTBREAKER. I just shouted, 'Heartbreaker!'"[2]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[3]
The Austin Chronicle 3/5 stars[4]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 4/5 stars[5]
Entertainment Weekly B+[6]
NME 8/10[7]
Pitchfork Media 9.0/10[8]
Q 4/5 stars[9]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[10]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4.5/5 stars[11]
Sputnikmusic 4/5[12]

Heartbreaker was considered by critics to be a fresh start for Ryan Adams after the demise of his previous band Whiskeytown. AllMusic's Mark Derning wrote that the album "is loose, open, and heartfelt in a way Whiskeytown's admittedly fine albums never were, and makes as strong a case for Adams' gifts as anything his band ever released", concluding that "the strength of the material and the performances suggest Adams is finally gaining some much-needed maturity, and his music is all the better for it."[3] The A.V. Club's Keith Phipps wrote: "Adams has recorded an intimate, largely quiet record that indisputably establishes his identity as an independent singer-songwriter".[13] Pitchfork Media's Steven Byrd called it "an album of astonishing musical proficiency, complete honesty and severe beauty."[8] Rolling Stone 's Anthony DeCurtis was less enthusiastic, stating that Adams' songs "too often fail to rise above their plain-spoken details to take on the symbolic power he yearns for".[10] Robert Christgau of The Village Voice selected "To Be Young (Is to Be Sad, Is to Be High)" as a "choice cut",[14] indicating a "good song on an album that isn't worth your time or money."[15]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Ryan Adams, unless otherwise noted. 

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "(Argument with David Rawlings Concerning Morrissey)" (An argument regarding the Morrissey track "Suedehead".)   0:37
2. "To Be Young (Is to Be Sad, Is to Be High)"   Ryan Adams and David Rawlings 3:04
3. "My Winding Wheel"     3:13
4. "AMY"     3:46
5. "Oh My Sweet Carolina"     4:57
6. "Bartering Lines"   Ryan Adams and Van Alston 3:59
7. "Call Me On Your Way Back Home"     3:09
8. "Damn, Sam (I Love a Woman That Rains)"     2:08
9. "Come Pick Me Up"   Ryan Adams and Van Alston 5:18
10. "To Be the One"     3:01
11. "Why Do They Leave?"     3:38
12. "Shakedown on 9th Street"     2:53
13. "Don't Ask for the Water"     2:56
14. "In My Time of Need"     5:39
15. "Sweet Lil Gal (23rd/1st)"     3:39
French bonus CD, Unreleased Tracks from the Heartbreaker sessions
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Goodbye Honey"      
2. "To Be Young (Is To Be Sad Is To Be High)" (Acoustic version) Ryan Adams and David Rawlings  



  • Ryan Adams - vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, harmonica, piano, banjo
  • Ethan Johns - drums, bass, Chamberlain, glockenspiel, B-3, vibes, backing vocals (2)
  • David Rawlings - backing vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, banjo, tambourine
  • Gillian Welch - backing vocals, banjo, acoustic guitar, electric bass, "voice of Lucy"
  • Pat Sansone - piano (5, 9, 11), Chamberlin and organ (6), backing vocals (2)
  • Emmylou Harris - backing vocals (5)
  • Kim Richey - backing vocals (9)
  • Allison Pierce - backing vocals (11)


Other information[edit]

"Shakedown on 9th Street" was covered on the Red Dirt band No Justice's Live at Billy Bob's album in 2007.

"Oh My Sweet Carolina" has been covered at least twice. The song can be heard on the deluxe edition of Zac Brown Band's 2010 album You Get What You Give, as well as on the 2008 Portastatic release Some Small History.

English DJ Mark Ronson remixed the song "Amy" for his 2007 album Version, of which singer Kenna provides vocals. The song "To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High)" is featured in the 2006 film Accepted, the 2002 film The Slaughter Rule, and the 2003 film Old School. A version of this song was also released in 2009 by David Rawlings on the Dave Rawlings Machine album "A Friend of a Friend." "Come Pick Me Up" is featured in the film Elizabethtown (which also featured two other Ryan Adams songs) and in a Series 2 episode of Skins. It was also named #285 on Pitchfork Media's "Top 500 songs of the 2000s." Joan Baez would cover "In My Time of Need" in 2003.

Elton John has famously credited the 'Heartbreaker' album as helping to regenerate his career and in 2002 he performed songs from it with Ryan Adams and did a joint interview with him where he thanked Ryan.[16]

Chart positions[edit]


Country Peak
Ireland[17] 67
UK[18] 183


  1. ^ Ryan Adams: Saving Private Ryan
  2. ^ "News". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2012-02-20. 
  3. ^ a b Deming, Mark. "Heartbreaker – Ryan Adams". AllMusic. Retrieved May 20, 2012. 
  4. ^ Renshaw, Jerry (September 29, 2000). "Review: Ryan Adams Heartbreaker; Caitlin Cary Waltzie". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved April 30, 2013. 
  5. ^ Larkin, Colin (2007). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-857-12595-8. 
  6. ^ Sullivan, James (September 8, 2000). "Heartbreaker". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 30, 2013. 
  7. ^ Chick, Stevie (November 27, 2000). "Heartbreaker". NME: 34. Retrieved April 30, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b Byrd, Steven (September 5, 2000). "Ryan Adams: Heartbreaker". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved May 20, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Ryan Adams: Heartbreaker". Q (172): 104. January 2001. 
  10. ^ a b DeCurtis, Anthony (September 14, 2000). "Heartbreaker". Rolling Stone. Retrieved May 20, 2012. 
  11. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon & Schuster. p. 6. ISBN 0-743-20169-8. 
  12. ^ H., Andrew (June 11, 2005). "Ryan Adams – Heartbreaker (album review 2)". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved April 30, 2013. 
  13. ^ Phipps, Keith (September 5, 2000). "Ryan Adams: Heartbreaker". The A.V. Club. Retrieved May 20, 2012. 
  14. ^ Christgau, Robert (April 3, 2001). "Consumer Guide: Vibrators". The Village Voice. Retrieved August 27, 2015. 
  15. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Key to Icons". RobertChristgau.com. Retrieved 15 January 2016. 
  16. ^ Jon Wiederhorn (2001-10-04). "Elton John Bags Technology; Praises Eminem, Ryan Adams". MTV. Retrieved 2014-10-24. 
  17. ^ "Irish Charts". Irish-charts.com. Retrieved 2009-11-22. 
  18. ^ "UK Chart Log". zobbel.de. Retrieved 2009-11-22.