Features, Ryan at Night

Ryan Adams, This Planet Needs You


courtesy of australianscience.com

Dear Ryan Adams: When I was a little girl, my mom would play the Notting Hill OST cassette in the car all the time. A great soundtrack, it introduced me to artists informative to the person I’d mature into. One of the songs on the soundtrack was Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine.” I remember singing along as if I’d written the words myself: “Wonder this time where she’s gone/ Wonder if she’s gone to space.” It was the most devastating thing I’d ever heard. This girl Bill loved, she hated the planet so much, she had to literally depart it to get away from it all. And since I’ve always had latent masochistic tendencies, it soon became my favorite song. I’d listen to it over and over again, despairing over the darkness in Bill’s Earth. It took me a decade to realize that the lyric was, in fact, “Wonder if she’s gone to stay.” But it didn’t matter. That scene in Notting Hill, wherein Julia Roberts plays the part of an actress who, in turn, plays an astronaut, was burned into my memory. It was too late, and I ached with Hugh Grant as he marched through all four seasons without a single outfit change, totally devoid of hope until time itself swallowed him up whole. Space, to me, had become this place where all wonderful things disappeared into oblivion. I simply refused to buy into any poetic, suburban small town yadda-yadda about the beauty of cosmic rays and twinkling stars. This, of course, is all made ironic by the fact that my name means “moon” in Sanskrit.

An old adage goes, “Tweets are the window to the soul.” And well, judging by your Twitter presence, I must admit, it’s not looking too good for planet Earth.  I dismissed your passion for aeronautics early on as a cool, contained obsession–the kind I reserve specially for my plastic Tintin figurines and miniature Swiss Army Knife collection. Or, you know, the kind that spurred this little column into existence. However, it has come to my attention that NASA has been sending you t-shirts, attempting to lure you, fully equipped with your harmonica, into the outer realms of space. It appears that you indeed hold a very serious interest in departing planet Earth, and, jokes and Bobby Jean parallels aside, I’m beginning to get concerned.

Ryan, I know it’s hard to compete with gorgeous gas clouds, the beautiful Icy Tethys, and the amazing centaurus A, the 3rd brightest galaxy in the night sky, only visible from the southern hemisphere, but I insist that you ignore the laws of physics for a mere minute. Consider this theory of relativity instead: the laws of songwriting are the same for non-accelerating observers. They show us that the writing of a musician can heal a listener,  no matter the speed at which music travels. Well, ok, that didn’t quite work out as I’d hoped–but you get the point: music is the closest most of our environments come to a gigantic cosmic dance. We need you to keep writing songs so we can all be a little less miserable. I urge you not to give into the trappings of Pitchforkian commentaries. Your planetary existence is a desideratum.

Love, Your favorite earth-dwelling tweet-decoder, Gauraa.

May 19, 2016

About Author

Gauraa Shekhar Gauraa is a freelance writer who divides her time between New York, Jakarta and Mumbai. She founded The Sympathizer because she was sick of having editors reprimand her for ending sentences with prepositions and charging songs guilty of being "as contagious as cholera in a sewer pipe." She is currently working on her first book.

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