Whiskeytown – 16 Days – Ryan Adams Blazes Americana’s New Trail

16 Days - Whiskeytown

In July of 1995 Ryan Adams and Whiskeytown settled into the Funny Farm recording studio in Apex, North Carolina and began assembling their debut album. The band, including violinist/singer Caitlin Cary, guitarist/singer Phil Wandscher, bassist Steve Grothmann, drummer Eric Gilmore and pedal steel guitarist Bob Ricker, worked relentlessly and within a week and a half they completed the album straight from the heart with no overdubs. Faithless Street was named after a low rent housing area in Raleigh where Adams once lived. He commented on the final result, “I think it’s a strong youth album. It’s crazy. It loves what it borrows from musically: It tips its hat to Gram Parsons. It tips its hat to the Stones. It’s shaking hands with Uncle Tupelo on some levels.” While those indelible influences can certainly be heard, its release also marked the introduction to the world of a musical genius, a highly gifted songwriting machine whose ceaseless commitment and prolific productivity could be matched only by the likes of Bob Dylan, Neil Young or Leonard Cohen.

“16 Days,” a song steeped in Americana and the tradition of storytelling, describes the regret, loneliness and anguish resulting from a failed relationship. By adding imagery like a rosary, the guilt of a haunting ghost and the dreadful finality of a pending hanging, Adams imbues the song with a terrifying sense of emotional despair.

“I got sixteen days
One for every time I’ve gone awayWhiskeytown
One for every time I should have stayed
You should have worn my wedding ring
I got sixteen days
Fifteen of those are nights
Can’t sleep when the bed sheet fights its way back to your side
Well the ghost has got me running (ghost has got me running)
The ghost has got me running (ghost has got me running)
Away from you, away from you, away…
I got sixteen days
Got a bottle and a rosary
God, I wish that you were close to me
Guess I owe you an apology
I got sixteen days
Fifteen of those are nights
Can’t sleep when the bed sheet fights
Its way back to your side
Well the ghost has got me running
The ghost has got me running
Away from you, away from you, away…
Old tin cups, little paper dolls
All wrapped up, in ribbons, bows, and hearts
Old tin cups, and little paper dolls
All wrapped up, in the ribbons of your heart
Well the ghost has got me running
The ghost has got me running
Away from you, away from you, away…
I got sixteen days
Sixteen days
I got sixteen days
Before I hang”