Walking, talking country music lyric has no regrets
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.