“My Wrecking Ball” is a simple song, even by Ryan Adams’ standards: a stripped-down arrangement, quietly sung verses, and an unadorned, repeating chorus. I’d be surprised if the whole song is more than ten sentences long. But the beautiful thing about Adams’ songwriting is that he doesn’t need to do a lot to break you in two.
He sets the scene immediately: Driving through the streets tonight… it’s hot, I got the windows down. I wish I could call you, I wish you were still around. There’s nothing complicated here–just a moment distilled to its barest essence, like he’s calling back a memory. His voice fades quickly into the space between breaths, a quiet guitar strum letting you know that he hasn’t evaporated with his words.
Adams said he wrote “My Wrecking Ball” about the loss of his grandmother. It’s not hard to picture him alone in the dark, singing this chorus over and over: “won’t you come and knock me down, come and knock me down tonight?” The slight echo on his voice cuts like he’s singing to an empty room, trying to fill the void in his heart the only way he knows how. At times like these, it’s all a songwriter can do.
He repeats the first verse again to end the song, implicitly telling you that he’s still in the exact same place. This memory, this drive, this night have all been crystallized into three beautiful minutes. Sometimes the few words you have are the only ones you need.
Play this song: When it’s late, you’re tired, and you miss someone.