Crap, I wrote an intro to this using an app on my phone and it's lost. It included a nice intro using Kozmo.com as my teaser. And now it's gone. Fuck it.
My first exposure was this song, and I still think it's one of his best, from his first solo album Heartbreaker:
Next up, another fantastic song from Heartbreaker, a duet with Emmylou Harris:
His second solo CD, Gold, had a slightly different, less country, sound. The first single, "New York, New York" had a video filmed in front of the World Trade Center on September 10, 2001 (watch the actual video here), and that imagery likely helped get the track attention, but it's also a pretty good single.
Next up is another track from Gold that took on a life all its own, "When the Stars Go Blue." Listen to the original, then to a cover by The Corrs (with Bono), then a #1 country hit for Tim McGraw. One of these things is not like the others.
I should point out that I've since gotten some Whiskeytown CDs, which was Ryan's life before his solo career. And since leaving he's been churning out a fucking ton of music every year. Which is annoying if you're middle-aged. I don't have time for someone prolific--I will settle for The Blue Nile and their "once every 7 or 8 years" release schedule, thanks.
Also he married Mandy Moore. Congrats y'all.
So I will leave you off with his cover of Oasis's "Wonderwall" cause, well, why not. Noel Gallagher, the song's writer, loves this version.
Happy birthday dude! Rock on! Just, you know, not so frequently. I'm too old to keep up.