“Let It Ride” by Ryan Adams & The Cardinals

“Let It Ride” is a complex piece poetically put is not a song that’s difficult to understand. That’s to say that it is based on a general theme we commonly come across, which is a vocalist’s desire to live a better life.

However, in this instance, that message is relayed a bit indirectly. Ryan goes about presenting himself as someone who can probably be best described as a vagabond. And whereas he does possess the yearning to change his life, simultaneously he’s obviously caught in some type of cycle of stagnation.

It may seem a bit odd to some listeners to hear someone who is apparently just 27 years old whining like this. But more to the point, as implied in the first verse, is him suffering from a persistent depression – the type that makes a person conclude that they’re a failure even. 

To note, in terms of Adams’s real life when this song was dropped, he was at the time a drug addict. So with that knowledge in tow, we can reasonably postulate that the vocalist presenting himself as a serial drifter is an allegory for – or perhaps a side effect of – being a junkie.

“Let It Ride”

So all things considered, what the titular phrase would symbolize is Ryan’s faith. The term “let it ride”, in context, is synonymous with his hope that his problems will solve themselves. Or put otherwise, the vocalist does not offer any ideological solution to his dilemma besides ‘letting it ride’. 

Indeed this song, in a way, is similar to a prayer. We have Ryan lyrically prostrating himself in the verses, while in the chorus he entreats some unidentified addressee, if you will, to intervene. Actually said addressee – or whom he is looking forward to for help – would apparently be the “stranger’s angels” mentioned in the chorus. And indeed, the ambiguity of that designation speaks to the aforenoted poeticness of this song in general.

In Conclusion

Conclusively, although this piece does have what can be deemed a faith-based element, it does not necessarily read religious. Whether or not the vocalist is calling for external, i.e. spiritual help as opposed to looking forward to some type of natural change is not specified, and it may be that both are the case. But in any event, he definitely doesn’t come off as the type who believes that transformation is achieved through struggle, so to speak.

Instead, it’s more as if Ryan is anticipating the moment coming when he will be freed from “this darkness” in his life. And when that time comes, it won’t be such that he has to force the change to occur.  But that said, as far as his personal disposition, the vocalist is clearly, even if not 100%, ready for this “ride” to take place already.

Lyrics of "Let It Ride"

Release of “Let It Ride”

“Let It Ride” was released alongside its album “Cold Roses” on 3rd May, 2005 via Lost Highway Records.


Ryan Adams wrote this track with four others in the persons of:

  • J.P. Bowersock
  • Cindy Cashdollar
  • Catherine Popper
  • Brad Pemberton

Appearance in “Six Feet Under”

American drama series, “Six Feet Under” utilized “Let It Ride” on the 7th episode of the show’s 5th season.

Let It Ride

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