Todd Snider at Bluebird Theater, 10/19/13

Categories: Last Night

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Tom Murphy

TODD SNIDER at BLUEBIRD THEATER |10/19/13
Todd Snider didn't skimp on stories at his show at the Bluebird Theater. Before "Ballad of Devil's Backbone Tavern," he told us how his nephew is getting into singing and songwriting. Apparently he had told Snider that he didn't sing a lot of his songs so much as speak them, and the nephew wondered if there was an example of that with other songwriters. Snider said he played his nephew "Alice's Restaurant."

See also: Todd Snider on how he parties with the co-founder of Crocs, George Boedecker, Jr.

As he told the story, he was playing the chords, which happened to be the same chords for his own song, which he went into while weaving in the lyrics of "Alice's Restaurant" to illustrate the brazen level of his artistic theft. Once he was done, he told us he's much less obvious about stealing music these days. It was that kind of show, flowing masterfully, with Snider making no bones about its looseness.

One of the best stories of the night came before, what else, "Conservative Christian Right Wing Republican." Before naming the song, Snider told us this story would go well with the song because he had grown up in the kind of conservative, right wing family that was rah-rah team and competitive the way we're all "supposed" to be in this country -- annoyingly aggressively so.

Snider also mentioned how he played football because his dad wanted him to, despite Snider's complete lack of ability in the sport. But on one fateful day, Snider was at practice pushing the plow-like tackling device when saw a bunch of kids hanging out dressed in every day clothes in a field. The coach said he'd hate to see him become one of those "burnouts in the smoke pit."

Snider was at lunch sometime later, he remembered, and one of those "burnouts" sat next to him, and the subject of psychedelic mushrooms came up, at which Snider naturally decided to try them. Afterward, the goal posts became roman candles and a figure on the plow-like device turned out to be Fred Sanford, from Sanford & Son, and he spoke to Snider. It was then that Snider knew he'd never go to football practice again.

During "Stuck on the Corner," someone threw a rose on to the stage, presumably intending it to land well, but it pegged Snider in the head. In as close to John Prine fashion as possible, Snider seemed to note this and didn't otherwise react; instead he faced forward, smiled brightly and performed a much-beloved version of "D.B. Cooper."

Snider had split the show into two sets, the first an hour long, the second, just over that with a half hour break between. The most extensive storytelling came near the end of the second set when Snider treated us to a handful of anecdotes of his time playing and hanging out with his hero Jerry Jeff Walker.

Apparently, Snider played with Walker in the '80s at one point, and a woman came up to Walker and told him how much she loved his music. She told him how amazing he was, and how Snider was next best. Then the woman told Walker she was going to use him as a prop against which Snider would sign the poster. Snider told Walker how it a dream to be able to play with his hero, and with the stranger being so excited to see them both, he noted how that moment was a high point in his life, to which Walker said, "Pretty boring life so far."

After Walker and Snider became friends, and Snider shared a story in which Walker invited him to go snorkeling in Belize. Snider went out and put on the gear and fell backward into the water. He didn't see an amazing coral reef, but he did see twelve sharks and some sting rays. Walker evidently told him to swim toward the boat, at which point the sharks scattered. It was a practical joke. The sharks were tame, apparently, as they were part of a farm.

Snide related another story in which the two were hanging out after a show. Snider had his semi-legendary tackle box filled with the drugs that people gave him in his travels. At the time, someone had gifted Snider a good deal of cocaine. Walker asked what was in the box, and Snider told him. Walker said he didn't do that drug anymore, even though in the '70s, Walker was sometimes called "Mr. Blowjangles," in parody of his famous song.

Snider apparently convinced Walker to do some cocaine with him, and as Snider didn't really do cocaine, he had no gauge of how much was "enough." He woke up later and heard someone pacing and saying, "Never again." He opened his eyes and saw Jerry Jeff Walker's balls -- Walker slept in the nude, evidently. This vision, Snider told us, is one of the things that keeps him from doing cocaine.


Location Info

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Bluebird Theater

3317 E. Colfax Ave., Denver, CO

Category: Music


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11 comments
Kerry ONeill
Kerry ONeill

Wow, Ted. I think you've hit the nail on the head! We've Loved Todd for years. But, he seemed to be struggling at his show in Amarillo!

Ted Anderson
Ted Anderson

Todd is a great story teller. He has his favorites that he loves to tell, over and over. I've known and played music with guys in my past that could give Todd a run for his money. I'm just not sure how long he's going to be able to keep up at this pace most of my friends couldn't.

furrymurphy
furrymurphy

Quick music history lesson- Folk songs begin like this "Blah,blah , blah blah , blah..." country songs being like this ( Bass Notes walking up to the ONE chord)  Double wide Blue-hoo -ues"

furrymurphy
furrymurphy

I read the whole story now, and all I know is that I want to die like my grandfather, peacefully in my sleep, not screaming and crying like everyone else in  his car.

furrymurphy
furrymurphy

I will read the remainder of the article, and I don't mean to be reductive of Todd's work. He's an American Master, PBS will get around to that episode after he's dead, in the unlikely event that PBS still has funding.

But, I realized that Arlo's anthem was Todd's template last year. Arlo did it once, Todd has done it over and over again without requiring 18 minutes to do so, unless the music-less story telling that enriched the song that followed is counted, and it still comes in shorter... and songs like "The Devil's Backbone Tavern" survives it's lead in story , even if you've never heard about "Eddie Van Halen and the Eddie Van Halen Band"  and that guy "hording 3 teath all to himself" off in the corner. Eat your heart out you redneck som bich!

Officer Obie, Alice, and the Draft, have NOTHING on the Body of work that is Todd's, It only inspired it.

Jarrod Reid
Jarrod Reid

"Do you mind if I tell a story? It's only going to take about an hour..."

Jenny Ledford
Jenny Ledford

soooo wish i could have been at this show for my birthday!

Deb Pavek
Deb Pavek

want to see your review from Durango?

furrymurphy
furrymurphy

@Ted Anderson Ted, he's been at it since the late 1980s, it's 2013, that is pretty much a quarter century. And his work is always evolving. "Agnostic Hymns and Stoner Fables"  was a funny title for that collection because the collection itself was far less " I Can't Complain" , "Somebody's Coming", and "Happy To Be Here". I like his lighter hearted earlier work, But Digger Dave's Crazy Woman Blues. That ugly stuff is daring and layered, not just witty. It's the same guy, getting madder and madder, He's only about 2 or 3 years years older than I am. He has spoken to the world I live in, unflinchingly, humorously, since the late 1980s. It is fitting how humorless, " In Between Jobs" Is. As Much as I would Love for Todd and I to recover our sense of well being, God Bless Him, He felt the needed to leave Alice's Restruant and speak on behalf of the folks who had no home in this world anymore, like Arlo's Dad. Many folks have wrongly drawn a thread between Woody, Bob, and Bruce.... Nope, Woody, Bob, and Todd YEP! But, I think I'm an Alright Guy ( maybe only Todd would laugh at that, but that is alright with me)

furrymurphy
furrymurphy

and Ted, while Todd stares unflinchingly at the world he lives in, we live in, and offers it as much humor as it deserves. Between "Agnostic hymns" and the forthcoming "Real Americans" That I can't wait for, he took a breather to record that beautifully drunken, fun as hell, tribute to Jerry Jeff Walker " Time As We Know It" which is a masterpiece best listened to in sequence. Right up There... in the middle...

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