Todd Snider and his “Mostly True Tall Tales”
The other day, I was hassling a friend of mine about taking his sweet time to read singer-songwriter Todd Snider’s new book, I Never Met a Story I Didn’t Like: Mostly True Tall Tales.
“I might just quit reading this Merle Haggard bio and go buy the Todd Snider book,” he said, and I had to stop him right there.
“I feel like Todd Snider would not support that,” I said, “but you should definitely read his book right after you finish up with Merle.”
If there’s an overriding theme in Snider’s book of stories, it’s respect for music’s greats. But his choice of “greats” isn’t always what you’d expect (not much about Snider is what you’d expect, come to think of it). Kris Kristofferson is on Snider’s list of heroes, as is Jerry Jeff Walker (and his balls – there’s a chapter titled “Jerry Jeff Walker’s Balls” that is most definitely not a metaphor). But he also speaks lovingly of Jimmy Buffett and Garth Brooks (and even Chris Gaines, if you want to count that separately). The only guy Snider really burns in this book is, well, himself. A younger Todd Snider sneered at audiences and almost quit a gig with Jimmy Buffett in a fit of pique. The older, wiser Todd Snider, it seems, really is an Alright Guy, prone to gratitude and enjoying the folks around him, famous and otherwise.
Todd Snider is such a great storyteller, in song and between songs at his shows, that it’s hardly a surprise that this book is an engaging read, at turns hilarious and heartwarming. But what did surprise me was that each story had a point – enough fluff to be fun but plenty of substance to sink your teeth into. The book made me laugh, and it made me think. Like Snider himself after years in the music business, I learned to be maybe a little bit better person than I was before.
The book reveals plenty about Snider’s life and times, including his early life as a high-school jock and his struggles with addiction. And there are lots of glimpses of (other) interesting people in the music business. But where Snider really shines is in his observations of real life and regular folks. Maybe playing barefoot all those years has helped keep him grounded?
So if you’re expecting a fun read with juicy tidbits about the music business and the people who inhabit it, treat yourself to I Never Met a Story I Didn’t Like. Just be prepared to think. And feel. And see Snider’s songs in a whole new light.
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Here are three great excerpts from I Never Met a Story I Didn’t Like. If these don’t convince you to rush out and buy this book, I don’t know how to help you:
Is This Really Garth Brooks? (American Songwriter)
Backstage with Jimmy Buffett (Rolling Stone)
Who Wears a Waistlet? (USA Today)