“Let’s see if you know this one,” Elton John says modestly, leading into his classic “Tiny Dancer.” Of course, the crowd knows it. Less familiar, however, is Ryan Adams , the shy young man who shares vocals with John the latest episode of CMT Crossroads, airing Sunday (May 26) at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
A 25-year-old musician who comes out of Raleigh, N.C., Adams works in a country-rock hybrid similar to the Byrds or Gram Parsons . John has called Adams’ Heartbreaker “the most beautiful album of 2000,” and he credits the work with inspiring him to get back to basics on his recent album, Songs From the West Coast.
The mutual affection between the songwriters comes through during their hour-long Crossroads special. They tease each other in behind-the-scenes interviews and on stage. Even when Adams occasionally misses a note, John maintains his bright, approving smile. Most of the time, their voices and styles blend wonderfully, especially on the country classic “He’ll Have to Go.” It’s also fun to hear a guitar on John’s most famous hits and a piano on Adams’ appealing songs.
“[Adams] is someone who writes with the caliber of Neil Young , that’s what I think,” John tells the show’s host, Greg Martin. “It’s exciting for someone young to come along and keep that heritage alive, and I care about people who write great music.”
A CMT original series, CMT Crossroads unites artists from different genres who find common ground in country music. Past pairings include Lucinda Williams and Elvis Costello, Hank Williams Jr. and Kid Rock, and Brooks & Dunn and ZZ Top.