There are few, if any, more entertaining performers on stage than Todd Snider, who plays at the Birchmere tonight. He’s a folk singer, or singer-songwriter, or troubadour, but the title of his recent live album delivers the best descriptor: “The Storyteller.” I wrote about Snider in last Friday’s Weekend section, and he talked about the misplaced pride of folk singers, an upcoming book, his hero Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and why he always performs barefoot. That answer is printed below.
“I’m just a dirty hippie is all. Really. I don’t really come from Thanksgiving and Sunday and all that. I mean, I do, but I left as soon as I could get away. So what ended up feeling all cozy and family to me is pretty counter to what I think is cozy and warm to most folks. I was at a party the other night at [former Leftover Salmon guitarist] Vince Herman’s house in Nederland, Colorado, and as I looked around the party I was taken by the thought of how many parents were in that moment laying awake across America worrying that someday their children would end up at a party like the one we were having. And yet for me it felt very family — be it ever so Manson. So I kicked off my shoes and stayed awhile.”
After the jump, read some bonus material with Snider, where he talks about the songs that he keeps in his repertoire and the surprisingly serious inspiration for much of his work.
“The songs I keep at and keep working on and keep singing are the ones that keep trying to make me cry. Even the funny ones. I actually resent them for it a bit but also know that the tour has been going on for 15 years and there is no end in sight. I also know from experience that songs I write because the words sound cool, or the chords are cool tend to make me feel like I’m carrying a piano when I sing them.
So I only work on the ones that are based on real emotions of my own. Even say a song like “DB Cooper” that sounds so much like the History Channel wrote it on some levels is actually a very healing thing for me to sing every night as it reminds me that I was right to agrue with my father and learn to root for who I wanted to root for and or go for what I wanted to go for whether he liked it or not.
He didn’t like DB Cooper. Nor did he like folk music. He was a omplusive liar and a bully and a phony Christian just like my brother and sister are now. Most of my songs are sung to ease the pain my family causes me and I always like to make sure that if they ever happened to hear one of my songs that they will hear the middle finger in it that is aimed towards them, and people like them.”
For more on Snider, read a review of his June 2009 show at the Birchmere or his “What Would You Say If You Met Bob Dylan?” contribution to the Village Voice from January, which remains my favorite thing on the Internet in 2011.