Wiser's interview of Bryan Adams first appeared in Songfacts.
WISER: You've worked with some amazing people. What is your
most memorable collaboration, either as a writer or performer?
ADAMS: Working with Tina Turner was amazing. I used to go to
see her in the clubs when I was in my late teens/early 20's
before she hit the big time. It was incredible to watch her.
Amazingly when we toured together years later, I never saw Tina
walk through a performance, she always put on a great show,
and was gracious and grateful to her audience. It was such a
privilege to have sung with her, especially since I was only
24 at the time.
WISER: What are some examples of songs that you wrote from personal
ADAMS: All of my songs come from personal experience lyrically,
wouldn't be able to write them otherwise.
WISER: Of the songs that you've written, which are you most
ADAMS: The really early ones. They were part of the learning
experience to be able to write the songs that everyone knows
now. You need to learn to crawl before you walk.
WISER: What's the story behind the song "Straight From
ADAMS: I wrote it when I was 18 and it was one of the first
complete songs I'd ever written. I'd been living in Vancouver
and teaching myself piano and this came out. Sometime after
I had written the song, my friend Bruce Fairbairn was producing
an album for an artist called Ian Lloyd, and wanted the song
for him. The song went on to be recorded by many people including
Bonnie Tyler, and I didn't actually record "Straight From
The Heart" until 1983 for my Cuts Like A Knife
album. It was my first top 10 record.
WISER: What were the influences on "Summer of '69,"
and does the title refer to the sexual position?
ADAMS: It's a very simple song about looking back on the summertime
and making love. For me, the '69 was a metaphor for making love,
not about the year. I had someone in Spain ask me once why I
wrote the first line "I had my first real sex dream".
. . I had to laugh.
WISER: The song "Heaven" has an interesting history.
How do you feel about that song, and what are your thoughts
on the DJ Sammy version?
ADAMS: Everyone loves this song, and I was thrilled at the dance
version produced by Yanou. It's always interesting to hear how
other people interpret your music, sometimes, like this version,
WISER: What's it like writing a song with Mutt Lange?
ADAMS: Mutt (Shania Twain's ex) is great to work with because
he is committed to making sure the songs have the best of everything
before they go out into the world. We've had three number one
records together and many good times, a true friend.
WISER: Did any of your songs end up sounding completely different
from how you envisioned them?
ADAMS: if you listen to my MTV Unplugged record and
check out the difference between "I'm Ready" on that
record and the original, you can see songs can be reinterpreted.
The thing to learn as a songwriter is there are many ways to
consider a song, they don't have to be the way you wrote them.
Bands are a good way to work out a song, playing them live is
also a great way to discover what a song is made of. Like many
things, sometimes songs need time, or should I say you need
time to work on your songs.
WISER: What's the story behind "Please Forgive Me"?
We read an interview where you said it was a rare use of modulation.
ADAMS: We needed a song for the greatest hits album, which was
entitled So Far So Good. Mutt Lange came up with the
idea for the song and we wrote it while working in France in
1993. it was the first time we had recorded with a whole band
in the studio, some of the musicians I'd never worked with before
like David Paich on piano. Before this band session, we had
recorded the album Waking Up The Neighbours instrument
by instrument. It was good to be back with a band.
it was one of the first songs I agreed to use a modulation in
as I never liked modulations in songs unless you were modulating
from verse to chorus like I did on "One Night Love Affair."
I don't do the modulation in "Please Forgive Me" when
I sing it live.
WISER: Please tell us about the song "On a Day Like Today."
ADAMS: It started from a track sent to me by Phil Thornalley.
I was in Jamaica writing for that album, and it was the right
sentiment to be singing at that time ". . . the whole world
could change, the suns gonna shine, shine thru the rain . .
. " It's totally Jamaica, but it was also interesting as
things for me had changed, and I was about to embark on a whole
new live show with just a three piece band, and even more daunting
was my record company got out of the business and then the Internet
WISER: How has your songwriting changed over the years?
ADAMS: Such a difficult question to answer as I'm not aware
of any changes. I think if anything, the process is just as
hard as it ever was. I've never found it easy to write, but
somehow every year I'll write a few songs.
WISER: How do you feel about making music videos, and which
is your favourite?
ADAMS: Probably my favourite music video was "The Only
Thing That Looks Good On Me Is You." When I watch my old
videos on YouTube I sometimes think that the film doesn't match
the music, and that was when videos mattered! I once worked
with a director who said to me, "If it's not unusual why
do it?" Nowadays, I think the best videos are the live
ones, as they truly showed what was going on with the artist
and the song.
WISER: You're an accomplished photographer. How has your photography
influenced your music?
ADAMS: If anything it's simply another creative outlet, much
like learning to master an instrument. There is so much to learn,
even if it's empirically. People always ask me for advice on
songs and how to do it, and I always say play them live. You
have to get out of the studio and perform them to figure out
if they really work or not.