Wash your hair on Friday; Todd Snider is Saturday night, June 8.
I know the excuses. At 41, I make them myself. You have to get up early. Your mother-in-law is in town. You have to wash the cat.
My list of Things I Am Willing to Actually Put on Pants For has suffered attrition over the last decade. But if you get a babysitter only one night in 2013, do it now. If you’re 23 and never heard of the guy and can only afford to go out once this week, step to the ATM. This is the show I look forward to seeing come around every several years.
I’m not a music critic. Oh, I mean I’m critical. But I don’t usually write a blog to dump my brand of discerning snobbery on my mass, mass audience of people dying to know what I think stinks. I save that for when I’m rapping with the voices in my head—who, by the way, were in quite a fervor this morning about Zac Brown. Or I reserve my bitter spew for when I’m poking a completely devoted Justin Timberlake fanatic with an e-stick on Facebook because I had a bad day, and, after all, they do have it coming. But who exactly do I think I am? Instead, I tend to publish my opinion on HottyToddy.com when it’s my glowing, glistening, drooling gums flapping about something I love.
Todd Snider is back in Oxford this week at Proud Larrys’ Saturday, June 8. Obviously I’m supposed to write something about it, which I figured to be easy, what with my qualifications as a major fan and knowing his entire catalog. When I sat to begin explaining why you should drop what you’re doing and be there, I watched some YouTube videos of Snider live, to get my mind going.
But, as a songwriter, I couldn’t finish watching one song without leaving the computer to go to my “music room” (guest bedroom with all our family belongings stored there and then a little guitar in a far corner) to attempt to write a new song. And I suppose I just explained why, if you are not familiar with Todd Snider, you need to go to Proud Larrys’ this Saturday. I don’t mean you must be a songwriter—though if you are, you actually are required by law (the obscure Doublewide Blues Proviso in the Mississippi Code Annotated) to attend. I just mean you will be inspired to do any manner of things.
I had thought I’d write about what’s great and different about each of his various moods, but that would be a rabbit hole. Shorthand: There’s a reason that along the way he’s earned the respect and friendship of his heroes, including Jerry Jeff Walker, John Prine, and Kris Kristofferson.
In nearly every interview of Todd Snider, it will come up that seeing Jerry Jeff by himself with a guitar play a show was the moment he saw his future, deciding, “I can do that.” Jerry Jeff had a similar effect on me, but I don’t think I was absolutely sure I could write actual songs until I saw Todd Snider & the Nervous Wrecks on Austin City Limits in the mid-‘90s. By that, I don’t mean he made it look easy. I mean he took what those forebears did (which had been new) and then did something else completely different with it. I realized every good song has not yet been written. There is room for another point of view.
If you are in the market for some slick, tight-as-a-bird’s-butthole country or pop music, stay home and just rot away the rest of your years. I won’t bother you again. But if insightful, shambolic, funny, moving, honest material is your bag, you know what I’m going to say.
I won’t bore you (here) with an half-hour presentation titled Let Me Tell You About a Bunch of Todd Snider Songs and Why They Are Great. You have to hear them first before we can talk about that, and I’ve included some samples below from their respective sources. Then you can go to the show at Larrys’ and hear a master storyteller whose timing and delivery are like George Carlin tricking you into thinking he’s Spicoli’s little brother, disguised as a folk singer.
Yeah, don’t worry, I won’t ramble on about it right now. Oh, later, maybe in a few weeks, I will corner you at a cocktail party. You will hear all about it. My breath may smell like hot garlic. And remind me to discuss ZZ Top’s Rio Grande Mud if time allows. — Tad Wilkes
Todd Snider performs at Proud Larrys’ on Saturday, June 8, with Amanda Shires opening. Tickets are $20. Doors open at 8 p.m., show at nine.
And how about a Kristofferson cover that could serve as a nutshell of a nutshell of Todd Snider: