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TavBlog: Todd Snider 'for' ORM

Updated: Jul 7, 2022

Originally written March 27, 2021.

I share this piece now because I didn’t have an audience for it when I first wrote it. Todd Snider was recording a weekly show from the Purple Room and I was inspired to share his own roots with him as he pondered several questions on air and dealt with the loss of two of his Mentors, John Prine and Jerry Jeff Walker. I did attempt to share it, but as far as I know, it never grabbed anyone’s attention.

As we wrap up the end of the Winter 2021/2 Cycle of ORM with Wholeness, Todd’s Lyrics resonate with me, perhaps a little louder than before. The feelings that made this project so personal to my ego have given way to the path of our larger and deeper soul connections. Todd Snider captures the essence of humanity in both his lyrics and his life. Thanks for indulging me.

Todd Snider on Our Raw Material

Todd Snider’s way with words has been a part of my life since 1994, when I first heard Songs for the Daily Planet. My friend Brenda’s husband was a program director at a local radio station. He walked in from work one day, tossed the CD casually between us on the couch and said “we aren’t going to play this, but you guys will love it.” I don’t think any of us could have imagined the incredible philosophical discussions and deliberate mental changes we would explore as a result of that flimsy, but charming introduction.

In January, 2005, Todd Snider and The Nervous Wrecks were scheduled to play The Hurricane in Kansas City. I dragged all the friends and family I could gather to Westport for a show that wouldn’t end up starting for a few hours, so everyone was pretty annoyed with me by the time Todd hit the stage. He opened with Traveling Band by CCR and within the first minute, every grumbly face was smiling as tired body language was replaced with energetic dancing. I have seen many Todd shows since then, each with its own personality and flair. I have been a fan since early in his career and in many ways Todd, or rather his lyrics, have served as one of my pivotal Mentors. These lyrics and their concepts have been woven into my adult psyche in such a natural way that it makes it difficult for me to know which concepts came directly from me, and which were formed as a result of listening to these early albums.

I could have used his entire catalog for this piece, and I expect there will be at least a couple more volumes, but I stuck with the pre 9/11 work to keep it solidly in the roots of his career. Every new song he ‘makes up’ contains simple, yet mind-blowing philosophical rhymings, and that is evident on every album and alive in every song. I know he doesn’t deliberately intend for me (listener) to adopt his views (he says as much most nights), however, I resonate with a lot of Todd’s truths and near-truths. The parts that don’t jibe? They provide an opportunity for deep compassion and understanding - with poignant humor and without judgment (‘If I judge the judgmental, then what am I?’), allowing some direct access straight into our souls.

Todd is one of the first people I can say I have actively endeavored to accept in Wholeness, including myself. Whether he intended to or not, he has put himself under a microscope and let us in, no matter what choices he is making at any given time. His words encourage curiosity and listening, as we root for the underdog and celebrate our worst qualities with wild acceptance - what I call Wholeness! (Week 12 of Our Raw Material)

For your ORM reading pleasure, I have gone to the vault and plagiarized the bulk of the lyrics from Todd Snider’s first four albums: Songs for The Daily Planet (1994), Step Right Up (1996), Viva Satellite (1998) and Happy to Be Here (2000) in order to demonstrate different ways to consider Our Raw Material: Finding Your Center, Wherever You Are from Todd’s Kaleidoscope. I reviewed everything he wrote up until 2000, (minus the I Like Country When It Rocks group of songs - were they called Country-Fried? I can’t remember now) and if some words hit me in some kind of way I logged them under the subject where I felt it. This is intended to be a fun guide, so if you are not enjoying it, please just walk away! If you want, try using your own favorite artist to put fresh eyes on Wholeness.

Apologies to Todd Snider and his Legal Team, if they are needed. I will be happy to cease and desist with this project at your earliest behest! Unless and until then, thanks for sharing cool perspectives.

Todd on Mentors:

When I was a child, I spoke as a child. I wish I could remember what I said

I believe that we all learn to love before we get through

Remember the kid you saw that night downtown? Singing on the sidewalk, guitar case on the ground.. he looked down on his luck so you threw him a buck. That was Me.

She makes a thing out of me; knows the world that I want to see

Jackie used to live three blocks away from me. We used to throw a baseball and then climb his old oak tree and we would sneak his old man' s cigarettes behind the picket fence. Swore that we would always be the best of friends. We would sit out on the curb and talk on summer nights until Jackie's daddy called him, and he took off like a light..

Last night I saw the flashing lights and quickly ran outside. The neighbor lady told me that Jackie’s youngest boy had died… Now they’re saying Jackie, he ain’t the only one to blame–because battered children almost always grow up to do the same

I got this feeling that my stepmom hates me. That gold digger’s got a worthless bone. She stays drunk on rum and Pepsi. She’ll never notice if I'm not home.

We were never without our doubts, I try to look back honestly. But I swear we could have walked on clouds, Yesterdays and Used To Be's. When I loved you and you loved me, Yesterdays and Used To Be's