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Ryan Adams on WTF: Smoking a Joint With Keith Richards Was Like the Sistine Chapel

AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 16: Singer-songwriter Ryan Adams performs at Music Is Universal presented by Marriott Rewards and Universal Music Group, during SXSW at the JW Marriott Austin on March 16, 2016 in Austin, Texas (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Universal Music)

In advance of his new album Prisoner, Ryan Adams appeared on today’s episode WTF with Marc Maron, chatting with Maron about his back catalog, his early punkish days as a musician, and the first time he met the Rolling Stones. The Stones stuff is especially charming, with the two gushing over their mutual hero worship for Keith Richards, who Adams calls a “deeply intellectual” conversationalist.

Adams opened for the Stones in the early 2000s, around the time of his breakthrough second solo album Gold. At some point, he shared a joint with Richards, an event that he recounts as a practically life-changing experience:

Adams: I remember the first time I was having a conversation with him, and he passed me a joint. And I remember my brain went into that freeze moment, when you’re like…imagine someone, where their whole life, they loved Meryl Streep or something. And they have pictures of her on their wall, or whatever. And so they find themselves at a coffee shop, and they’re behind her, and they say something. And time starts to slow down and freeze, just for the moment that their pleasant exchange happens…

It was before I went on. It was the day, and it was a big production. And someone said “Keith says to come down to Camp X-Ray.” That was the name of his backstage area, which is awesome. And I was like “Yeah, right on.” I went down and said hello, and I sat down. And I remember he passed me this joint, and time just went tick, tick, tick, tick… tick…. tick…. and I looked at his fingers, and I looked at my fingers going to grab it. And in my mind I was imagining the Sistine Chapel, or whatever.

Maron: Yeah, yeah. The two hands. The hand of God and the hand of man.

Adams: I was like, “Oh my God! The joint is being passed!” It was so crazy.

Listen to Adams’s full WTF appearance here.