Let's be honest. He really doesn't. When he pulls into the Portsmouth Pavilion next Friday he'll have had sold over a hundred million records over the course of a lifetime. That pretty much says what it needs to, no?
No, he's not Leonard Cohen. He's not John Lennon. He's not McCartney. He's not Bowie. Hell, he isn't even Adam Duritz. Bryan Adams is more like.. The Bud Light of Rock and Roll. And there's nothing wrong with that. Millions of people love Bud Light. It's not overly complicated. It's easy to get into. It's easy to find. And it goes great with barbecues.
One. Hundred. Million. Records. Thirty hit singles. I.. Can't even..
I can't begin to pretend to understand why that is. People just like him, I guess. And hell, it's not like he's unlikable. He's hard working. Earnest. Nice. He gives gobs of money away to charity every year. He's been honored with 20 Juno Awards out of **56 nominations.** He's won countless MTV, ASCAP, and American Music awards. He's got three Ivor Novello Awards for song composition. He has a Grammy. I don't have any of these things, so really..
He's number 52 on the list of artists who have sold the most records. He’s sold more certified units than Stevie Wonder. Or the Beach Boys. More than The Who or Johnny Cash. More than Jay-Z or Beyonce. He’s only a million or so shy of Bob Dylan’s totals, who has twenty years on him. Obviously, Bob’s been slacking off the last two or three decades, but whatever.
I guess.. Really, at the end of the day one gets farther in life asking questions like, "Have you ever really loved a woman?" You're going to make a hell of a lot people happy if everything you do, you do it for them. That he sells a lot of records because Bryan Adams fans still actually buy records at the mall should take nothing from his achievements. If a certain percentage of those sales were to Ryan Adams fans who just got confused on iTunes? That's not his fault. If the majority of folks playing his CDs hold firsthand knowledge of the Summer of '69? We shouldn't hold that against the man.
. . .
For the sake of knowing what I'm talking about, I sought out his last record (2015's "Get Up") on Youtube to give it a chance. My initial reaction was a bit of shock that he doesn't really look like I remember him. Then again, I probably haven't seen a picture of Bryan Adams since 1991. And even then it was likely by accident.
He's aged into a mature, elder statesmen of soft rock. He seems to have picked up a bit of rueful gravitas. His lyrics, are of course, not Shakespearean in their depth. Then again, Shakespeare hasn't sold that many albums either. The initial tracks move with a certain rockabilly vibe before the entirety of the effort settles down into the familiar vein. Which is a shame, really. It might be interesting to hear him go full on with the 50's sound. It would be a daring departure form him to write something a bit more roots rock, you know? That said, his fans aren't all that likely to be interested in his making musical explorations. They'll be coming to the show to hear the song from Robin Hood. To relive the memories of youthful summers now long past -- whether be 1969 or 1989.
They're coming to sing the words to the songs they know, as they sway back and forth held tight in the familial grip of easy nostalgia. There's nothing wrong with that.
Really, if you're a Bryan Adams fan? You don't care what I think.
And why should you?
Go on. Enjoy your jam.
That's just as it should be.