Ryan Adams, Adam Duritz, and Leona Naess are sitting in a field of poppies. Up walks Elton John, who asks, ”Where’s me wand?” Forget Kansas, we’re not even in Oz anymore. It’s Long Island City, N.Y., where Adams is preparing to shoot a scene for the Luke Scott-directed video to ”Answering Bell,” the second single from his critically adored album ”Gold.”
”I won’t go into whether [the poppies] are fake or real,” quips Adams, ”but I will say that we have a very large tea kettle in the back.” In the less-than-faithful interpretation of the classic film, the singer is accompanied by a Lionlike Duritz (who sings on the track) and a Scarecrow-esque Billy Mercer (Adams’ bassist) when he stumbles upon singer/tourmate Naess. As they kiss, the Wizardly John waves his wand in approval.
Sound trippy? That’s because Adams conceived the video while hopped up on flu medication in a Hamburg, Germany, hotel room. ”To be dead honest, I wanted something you could smoke pot to,” he says. Adams’ altered state may explain his invitation to Bryan Adams (who happened to be staying at the same hotel) to play the Tin Man; the ’80s Adams declined. John, on the other hand, jumped at the chance to participate: ”I don’t even do my own videos anymore, but I wanted to do this,” says the British legend. ”[Ryan’s] influenced me so much over the last two years.” The feeling is mutual: ”Believe it or not, I call him for lots of chick advice,” Adams says.
Meanwhile, the alt-troubadour seems to have his career figured out. This year, he plans to release four new albums: The still-untitled sequel to ”Gold” is expected late spring/early summer, followed by a series of discs geared toward die-hard fans, which will initially be available through his website and at concerts and later in stores. Adams is backed by frequent collaborators the Pinkhearts on one; he teams with Bob Dylan’s pedal-steel guitarist Bucky Baxter for ”The Suicide Handbook”; and he recorded ”48 Hours” in the two days after he saw Alanis Morissette in concert (”She blew my mind,” he says.) He also cowrote a song for Duritz’s new album with Counting Crows and produced the upcoming CD for ex-D Generation frontman Jesse Malin.
Back on the set, Duritz and Malin are trying to get some face time with John between takes, while Adams hypes his hope for the coming year. ”My goal is by 2003, I go to the store and there’s six records [under my name],” he says. ”Six records in three years? That’s pretty f—ing good, right?”