The New York Times’ reporting on the abuse allegations of seven women against Ryan Adams has prompted a number of statements from those in the musician’s orbit. Frequent collaborator Jenny Lewis, for example, tweeted that she stands “in solidarity with the women who have come forward,” while Jason Isbell, who appears on Adams’ “on hold” album Big Colors, said that, though he wasn’t aware of Adams’ behavior, he believes and supports the Times’ reporting. In the midst of it all came a new statement from songwriter Phoebe Bridgers, one of the women interviewed for the Times’ article.
“Ryan had a network too,” she said on Instagram on Sunday. “Friends, bands, people he worked with. None of them held him accountable. They told him, by what they said or by what they didn’t, that what he was doing was okay. They validated him. He couldn’t have done this without them.”
In pointing out the complicity of Adams’ network, Bridgers raised awareness of how Adams’ behavior speaks to the systemic nature of sexism within the music industry. Now, in a new episode of the Times’ Popcast, the paper’s Joe Coscarelli and Melena Ryzik have offered an example of how that culture sought to protect Adams from allegations of abuse.
Prior to the Times piece, Coscarelli says, Bridgers had discussed Adams’ abusive behavior both onstage and to other media outlets. In one instance, he recounts, Adams’ team allegedly made a “backchannel call” to have negative comments she made about the songwriter removed from the interview, a request that the unnamed publication apparently granted. Coscarelli calls it an example of “how power works in the music industry,” and one imagines the incident was at the back of Bridgers’ mind when she penned the above statement. You can hear it around the 7:30 mark of the episode.
Meanwhile, Adams’ previous collaborators have continued to come forward. Todd Wisenbaker, a member of Adams’ band, acknowledged that he was aware of the singer’s abusive behavior, but “chose to believe his insane version of the truth because it was easier than believing that anyone is capable of being this much of a monster.” He continued, “I’ve recently learned that pretty much everything he’s ever told me is a lie upon a lie upon a lie.” He concluded his statement by saying he has a “responsibility to speak up” and that “the women that spoke out are brave beyond words.”
Wisenbaker’s wife, the musician Katy Goodman, also took to Instagram to address the allegations. “Believe the women who have told their stories about Ryan Adams,” she wrote alongside an image reading, “A Narcissist’s Prayer.” As La Sera, Goodman collaborated with Adams on her 2016 album, Music For Listening To Music To.
Listen to the full podcast, which provides more context about the Times’ reporting, here.