“If you run into my sister tell her Elvis is cool
but the Rolling Stones will sweep her away”
Cracks in a photograph is from the unreleased album that was supposed to be the follow-up to Adams’ solo debut Heartbreaker. We can only speculate why the album was shelved, but it is a bleak affair and the title was/is Suicide Handbook. I’m guessing the record company wasn’t too thrilled by what they got served.
The song is the 4th song on the second disc and I will describe it as a hidden gem or a buried treasure, to my knowledge it has never been performed live. It is one of his finest compositions, but maybe it is too close and too true to those bad feelings from before, even for Ryan Adams. The song could be interpreted as part of a suicide note, or at least the notes from a man making amends and leaving “the old life”.
Cracks in a photograph:
The Suicide Handbook:
This is Ryan Adams at his saddest, but the songs are ballads of the kind that hurts and feel good at the same time. Some of the tracks from these sessions would later appear on Gold and a few was released on Demolition and one on Easy Tiger. The rest remains unreleased , but not because they are any weaker than the songs that have been released . There are at least three masterpieces here, and many people have never heard them!
Suicide Handbook is 21 songs of heartache and anguish but it is, oh, so good!
1. Wild Flowers 2. Perfect And True 3. Tell It To My Heart 4. She Wants To Play Hearts 5. Pretenders 6. Famous Eyes 7. Touch, Feel & Lose 8. Firecracker 9. La Cienega Just Smiled 10. For No One 11. You Don’t Know Me 12.Bow To The Sad Lady 13. Off Broadway 14. Cracks In A Photograph 15. I’m Waiting 16. Cry On Demand 17. Miss Sunflower 18. Just Saying Hi 19. California Love 20. Idiots Rule The World 21. Dear Chicago
The whole session is recorded by Ryan Adams and Bucky Baxter. William “Bucky” Baxter is an American multi-instrumentalist from New Jersey. He has played on various albums by artists such as Bob Dylan, Ryan Adams, Steve Earle, R.E.M., and Joe Henry. He has appeared on three Ryan Adams albums, The Suicide Handbook, Gold and Demolition. On Suicide Handbook he plays some wonderful steel, a bit piano and guitar, and he sings backup vocals.
It’s a shame that the album is unreleased, ok, we can hear that these are demos, but in all their imperfections they are perfect. Adams should release them as they are.
I’ve read somewhere that this album was meant to be a part of 20:20 (a box set comprised of his unreleased albums, 48 Hours, Pinkhearts,Darkbreaker and Black Hole), but that was a long time ago…
Suicide Handbook is just as essential as his best official releases.