John and Adams Meet at Harmonic 'Crossroads'
BY ROBERT HILBURN
TIMES STAFF WRITER
May 25, 2020

It's only natural to assume that Ryan Adams will benefit more, career-wise, from his teaming with Elton John on Sunday's 8 p.m. edition of "CMT Crossroads," the imaginative Country Music Television series that pairs country and pop-rock artists in an informal musical setting.

Adams, a young singer-songwriter from North Carolina who led the country-leaning Whiskeytown band before embarking on a more rock-oriented solo career in recent years, may be a media darling, but he's still largely unknown to the general pop audience.

Anyone who hears John frequently laud Adams' music (and compare the writer to Bob Dylan and Neil Young) probably will be moved to think about buying an Adams album (last year's "Gold" is the one to get). But John, too, should benefit, because contemporary pop-rock fans, who may tune in chiefly to see Adams, may well come away with a new understanding of John's place in the pop-rock hierarchy.

Because John's most compelling work with co-writer Bernie Taupin was in the '70s and '80s, it's easy for young pop fans to think of him more as a crafty hit-maker than as a major pop figure whose body of work--as a singer, songwriter and pianist--ranks as one of the most distinguished of modern pop.

As they go through each other's songs (including John's "Daniel" and Adams' "Firecracker") and country-rock standards (including the Jerry Lee Lewis hit "Great Balls of Fire"), the pair live up to the lofty goals of the "Crossroads" series. It's a rare chance for artists to perform in an atmosphere that is as joyful as it is illuminating.