I never thought my favorite artist would be the guy who sings, “Beer Run.” It’d be easy to say that Todd Snider is the kind of musician who is living at the wrong time, he’s more fit to play Chong to Willie Nelson’s Cheech as an opening act in Willie’s ‘70s prime. That’d be true, but Todd (I’ve said this before, in my world we’re on a first name basis) is a perfect throwback to the past. He’s a kind of stoner smartass Jimmy Buffett/Gram Parsons for 2012 who sings about the baseball pitcher who threw a no-hitter on LSD, New York bankers, and trying to pick up chicks in bars.
Today, not even two months since his twelfth album dropped, Snider released the collection Time As We Know It: The Songs of Jerry Jeff Walker, where Todd covers fourteen songs from one of his heroes. The songs might as well be his own. Snider is backed by the Great American Taxi, who often accompany him on tour, and incorporates his own sense of humor into the songs.
If you’re still reading this post, thank you. Most people could care less about burnout folk rock music to begin with, and even less would want to read about some road dog stoner that few have ever heard. Think of it this way: if you’re still reading this your reading words that my friends, family and even my girlfriend will never read, it’s just me and you from here on out. Over the past few years the cult of Todd has been growing and I consider it my responsibility to try to convert as many people as I can. Do you hate going to work? What about when you see people screaming into the Drive Thru window at some poor teenager? If those two sound okay and you don’t mind a few songs about murder or robbery then it’s time to baptized.
Jesus was crucified, the Jews wandered through the desert after being kicked out of Egypt, and I constantly am harassed about listening to Todd Snider. The problem is, I don’t really know how to defend myself. Basically, he just plays simple guitar chords and his voice has that country-hiccup but the songs are great. It’s like having a beer with a wise old uncle that you haven’t seen in five years. Todd also has that mystery that uncle would have.
At a time where audiences can predict the songs at a concert before an artist even plays them, Todd Snider is pretty much off the grid. His website (which refers to social networking as “Todd on the Facebook”) is pretty sparse and the Todd Snider twitter feed’s bio describes him as “Vice President of the Abrupt Change Department, Aimless Inc.”
At this point, Todd’s concerts are legendary among his fans. He either appears solo with an acoustic guitar or with a backing band. Bootlegs are all over the Internet and there’s even a site a la Phish designed for fan trading. Usually, Great American Taxi is behind Snider onstage but he’s shaken it up lately by appearing live with the band from Agnostic Hymns, which features more electric guitar and even a violin. Who cares about that, though, it’s what most artists do. What makes Todd Snider’s shows so essential are the stories he tells.
The onstage Tipsy Gypsy persona he employs is what makes Todd that spacey distant uncle. Most of it is obviously an act, but the key word there is most. It’s not really clear where his persona ends and his real life begins. Based on the way he tells them, every story could easily have happened. He usually tells three or four during every show between songs. Sometimes they reveal a little bit of the songs’ origin, sometimes they’re specific to the town he’s in, but they’re always funny. For an almost full archive of his shows, head over to ToddSniderLive.com.
This won’t be a big shocker but I discovered Todd Snider early in my college life. He’s negatively affected my GPA as much as he’s positively affected my apathy about stress. I drove around delivering pizzas with him and listened to him when I made chicken wings. Time As We Know It is a great career turn from a singer who has never thought of it that way. He’s just wandering around out west somewhere with a beer and cig like that uncle of yours.