“Harder Now That It’s Over” by Ryan Adams (2001)

Let’s get this out of the way: yes, Ryan Adams is a fucking creep. I have no intention of going to any of his shows in the future or buying any of his albums. However, let’s also face this fact-plenty of creepy folks make great art. My enjoyment of someone’s music is an endorsement of the music, not necessarily the person who makes it. Anyway…

The narrator of “Harder Now That It’s Over” is a fucking creep. Well, he’s more like an asshole than a creep (and let’s face it, we knew this about Ryan Adams long before 2019). He’s also a broken-hearted asshole who apparently got his lady thrown in the slammer over something he did. She (deservedly) left him and now he’s apologizing for being an asshole, putting on the puppy dog face because she’s gone. He’s also apologizing on the phone, as the song’s end makes abundantly clear.

(Seriously, though: not saying that every lyricist writes from personal perspective, but it’s hard to listen to these lyrics (and the lyrics of, like, 20 other Ryan Adams songs) and not feel like “well, he was calling out his own shit long before he actually got busted for it.”

Am I a shitty person because I absolutely love a song about gaslighting? I guess that’s your decision to make. But the melody of “Harder Now That It’s Over” is beautiful, the song is incredibly well-written, and it’s one of those songs that sounds absolutely perfect when your latest flame has dumped you and you’re sitting in some bar nursing your hurt with a glass of whiskey. Having feelings and being an asshole are not mutually exclusive, y’know.

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