Walk­ing, talk­ing coun­try mu­sic lyric has no re­grets

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT - ROB WIL­LIAMS

TODD Snider is try­ing to shake the song­writer tag from his singer­song­writer des­ig­na­tion. “I’m try­ing to quit mak­ing up songs so much. I was hop­ing this would be my last ones for a while — maybe for­ever. I feel like I’ve done a ton of it. I feel like if I keep do­ing it I’m do­ing it just for the sake of do­ing it,” he says, over the phone from Greenville, S.C. prior to a sound check.

The 45-year-old has writ­ten plenty of songs over the years. Since 1994 he has re­leased more than a dozen al­bums, in­clud­ing two re­leased this year: a new col­lec­tion of orig­i­nals called Ag­nos­tic Hymns & Stoner Fa­bles and Time as We Know It: The Songs of Jerry Jeff Walker, a trib­ute to the 70-year-old Texas-based song­writer best known for writ­ing Mr. Bo­jan­gles.

But now, Snider feels like he has writ­ten enough and wouldn’t mind spend­ing the new few years tour­ing and play­ing dif­fer­ent sets of mu­sic he’s al­ready writ­ten.

“At a cer­tain point I have to be happy with the songs that were given to me and not make peo­ple lis­ten to songs that were forced. John Prine was my men­tor and he said to me, ‘If a song comes to you try and ditch it, but if it sticks with you, you’re stuck with it,’” Snider says.

The Nashville-based artist has been stuck with some good ones over the years from his breakthrough sin­gle Talkin’ Seat­tle Grunge Rock Blues to Big Fin­ish off Ag­nos­tic Hymns that serves as a se­quel to his 2004 song, Age Like Wine, an ex­pres­sion of dis­be­lief he was still alive fol­low­ing a few bat­tles with drug ad­dic­tion.

He’s still around and looks to be for a while longer. He’s kicked his hard­drug habit but still en­joys wine and beer, he says.

“There ain’t nothing wrong with get­ting drunk all day, as long as you get to work on time,” he says.

Yes, he’s also a bit of a bar­room philoso­pher and is never at a loss for some­thing to say. He plays the Win­nipeg Folk Fes­ti­val mainstage tonight and is sure to of­fer up some good sto­ries be­tween song ban­ter. Here are some highlights from our in­ter­view:

Two more thoughts about quit­ting song­writ­ing:

“Some peo­ple say it’s like go­ing to a ther­a­pist and it is like see­ing a ther­a­pist for me and at a cer­tain point you have to stop go­ing to a ther­a­pist or you be­come a nar­cis­sist.

“If you see me in 10 years and I haven’t made up an­other song con­grat­u­late me. I shook that (af­flic­tion).”

On be­ing in­spired while hang­ing out at his favourite Nashville bar:

“I never hear the of­fi­cial ver­sion of anything, I hear the drunk retelling.

On reach­ing mid­dle age af­ter years of var­i­ous ad­dic­tions:

“Even now, 10 years later, I would have thought I would have paid my price for my 30s. I don’t live like a saint, but I don’t live like THAT any­more. For a long time I would get into any car I would be of­fered a ride in and take anything any­one gave me. As I get older I’m less about that life­style, but I still en­joy go­ing to the bar ev­ery day. I’ll never get soft.” On hu­mour in mu­sic: “It’s al­ways worked for me as a lis­tener and a singer. I al­ways like it when things didn’t get too heavy­handed. It al­ways comes out. I re­mem­ber when I got mugged one time I said some­thing and one of the guys laughed. The guy hit me with a gun and said, ‘Give me all your money,’ and I said, ‘Do I look like I have money? Is this your first day on the gig?’ and one of the guys laughed, I swear.” On re­grets: “I’ve had a blast. I wouldn’t change it. There have been a few am­bu­lance rides I could take back, though. I was look­ing for suspended ado­les­cence and I got it in spades. And it pays good. You don’t have to worry about bread. Back­stage you get all kinds of veg­eta­bles and ranch dip like it’s go­ing out of style.” On his bad hip: “I walk and look like Fred San­ford. I’m the Fred San­ford of folk.”


Enough, al­ready!: Snider says he doesn’t want to write any more songs.

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