Todd Snider mixes humor with dark experiences
Todd Snider has the amazing ability to make you laugh and depress you at the same time. Take "Age Like Wine," on which he runs through the managers (7), labels (5) and bands (3) he's run through, ending the song, "I thought that I'd be dead by now. But I'm not."
Or "Tillamook County Jail," a Johnny Cash-esque song inspired by a night in jail that contains the line "Got a lump on my head and a boot print on my chest.
What the guys in here call the Tillamook county lie detector test."
Snider is a hell of a musical storyteller, but as funny as they are, those stories often come from a painful place. He's from the Woody Guthrie school of songwriting, with elements of Dylan mixed in. You can hear Snider sing those stories Saturday at Wooly's.
So Snider might tell you something like this:
"I may come off the road for awhile. I have some ... I don't think it's fair to call them mental health issues. When someone is standing on the corner in their underwear, they're not crazy. They're just odd in comparison to what everyone else is doing."
That's gold, but it comes from such a place of heartbreak. Snider is recently divorced and admitted that touring is in part to pay those expenses. There's the mention of mental health issues and Snider's past struggles with drugs and alcohol. Sometimes a Snider song is pure comedy, like his breakout grunge rock/Dylan parody "Talkin' Seattle Grunge Rock Blues" about a band that got famous for not playing any music, but just as often the humor is tinted with a boot to the chest.
2015 marks 10 years since Snider released "East Nashville Skyline," which contained "Age Like Wine" and "Tillamook County Jail." Last year was the 20th anniversary of Snider's first album, "Songs for the Daily Planet."
"I think it's hard to think back to that time," Snider said of the "East Nashville" songs. "I miss it in a lot of ways and I'm glad its gone in some other ways. When I sit down to sing, I don't think about the songs. Well, I do, but not in a linear way. I still feel like the same idiot, but I still feel like I'm 15 sometimes. I look in the mirror and (crap), I forgot I'm a grown up."
Last year Snider released his first book, "I Never Met a Story I Didn't Like." It's full of great stories, but Snider said the last 18 months of his life have made the book look boring. He's been writing and performing with the band Hardworking Americans, but he's not sure when he might record a follow up to his own 2012 album, "Agnostic Hymns and Stoner Fables."
"I guess I kind of don't want to do it," Snider said. "I think I might change my name or something. I might take an indefinite pause. I just got divorced, moved and lost a lot of friends. I don't think I act the way people want me to the longer I'm on the road. Sometimes you need to step away and forget where you are, forget everything. It's been chaotic for a bit, but not druggy or cop-py."
When: 9 p.m. Saturday
Where: Wooly's, 504 E. Locust St.
Cost: $22 in advance, $27 at the door