When Jacksonville songwriter Ryan Crary wrote me about his five-song release Words on a Whim, I thought, “Crary has too many Rs in it.” Then I had a listen to the music, and I immediately forgot about how hard Crary is to pronounce. There I was, overwhelmed by the softball songs, the overtly charming melodies, the ’90s guitar solos. I wanted to blow my brains out, but I had just changed the sheets.

Instead, I contacted Crary via email and told him what he was dealing with. “Look, dude, I really don’t like your style of music, and I am going to kill you in the press,” I wrote. “Now’s your chance to get out unscathed.” To his credit, not only did he want me to review his music, but he agreed to an interview.

If you want to listen to his stuff, grab some cotton candy and your Snuggie and log onto While you listen, read this …


Me: You are aware that I don’t like your music, but you insisted on doing this interview. Are you a masochist or what?
Ryan Crary: I am, but only during the holidays. Makes me feel alive.

Well, then, happy freaking holidays. I would call your style of music power pop, which I stopped listening to in 1994. What do you call it?
Everything is cyclical, and the ’90s have made a comeback. I try to write each song with its own style and theme. I’ve always had trouble associating a style with my sound, but it’s nice to be labeled now.

You’re welcome. In the title track, “Words on a Whim,” you say you “took the pills to numb the pain.” Are you still doped up, or are you clean?
Still hooked. So long as you keep supplying them.

That’s not even close to funny. Moving on … The chorus in “Abruptly” sounds like a cross between Seals & Crofts and America. Are you old enough to know who those bands are?

I know America, but what the hell are Seals & Crofts?

“Summer Breeze,” “Get Closer,” “Diamond Girl.” Any of those ring a bell? Never mind. All right, let’s be frank here. You play this kind of music ’cause it gets you laid. Right?
Of course. Isn’t that the reason everyone starts playing music?

You love heavy metal, doncha?
Nope. Although I am heavily impressed with the technical musicianship of metal.

I actually like your song “Leaving This.” I mean, I like it more than I hate the other songs. It’s well-put-together, good melody, very much like America’s “Ventura Highway.” It certainly doesn’t suck. Don’t let it go to your head.
That’s high praise. It’s also my favorite on the album. It’s about the want to transition to something more than a Jax Beach cover band and write some original music.

On your website, you do a variety of covers. I’ve got to admit, the Amy Winehouse tune sounds pretty solid. But Jesus, dude, you cover a Justin Bieber song. What the hell is wrong with you?
What do you mean? You’re a closet “Belieber,” aren’t you? Is it too late now to say sorry? 

Seriously though, to gain appeal on YouTube, the best thing to do is cover pop tunes, and that little shit is at the top.

On your website, you have a form where people can sign up to have a special song sent to them. If I were to enter my name and email address, what would be the song you would send to me?
For you, a cover of “Love Yourself” by your favorite artist, Justin Bieber. For everyone else, an original song or two that aren’t on this album.

Listen, Crary, if that’s your real name, when you put out another record, will you promise that it will not sound like this one?
Yes! I’m working on it now and plan to have it out at the end of this year. Written and produced by yours truly, and it definitely has a different sound.

Thank Christ.