As I mentioned earlier, I read David Menconi’s Ryan Adams biography and liked it. It left me with some mixed feelings about Ryan and some thinking about the strange nature of biography. But a good bio does that! I was also glad to see Menconi’s favorites among the Ryan catalog matched my own.
For journalist friends — and others — if you’re on the fence about picking up a copy, let the enjoyable next two paragraphs push you over to buying. Menconi, who is a good reporter as well as being a good writer, digs up part of a great letter Adams wrote to the Raleigh News & Observer when, pining for some staffer, he applied to be an office assistant. If you’ve ever written a cover letter to a newspaper… you’ll be surprised as me this didn’t work.
There comes a time when old acquaintances must be forgotten, when the partys over, when the fat lady is just about let out those first few repulsive notes and it is finally obvious action must be taken. Of course now what? What does the idealist persue in modern day society? More likely, what in the hell am I to persue in modern day society? Flat broke from the listless nights spent crooning life over a bottle of strong liquor, using my youth as a weapon against the world and myself. Taking advantage of life at all cost at any means and most definitly every waking hour. I imagine I shall persue the same direction as I always have, maybe this time with more self discipline. I have escaped every other form of discipline save the bad luck and hard knocks that one comes across alone and against the world once and for all. Even in failure I will still be at work. As restless as before. As willing to submit only to the deepest of my whims.
It is important to become disillusioned with ones art so that one may feel it necessary to overcome oneself in their own right. In the name of their own vision of what is truth. A true artist cannot see the world except through his art. His life and his work are art. His soul awaiting translation.
It has typos and a bit of crazy, and it’s not nearly as badass as Hunter S. Thompson’s famous crazy cover letter. But it beats half the journo cover letters I’ve seen, and I think it would cause many editors to at least give Ryan a call. Craziness and misspelling keep few souls out of newsrooms.
Menconi only includes these final grafs of the letter, but he says the full thing has circulated in Raleigh for a while. Anyone want to put it online?
And go pick up the book. Thanks to friend Jamie for recommending it.