Todd Snider’s Early Exits
Concertus interruptus can leave you feeling blue, and even a little despondent. If you happen to be a Todd Snider fan, as I am, you’d better get used to it. And, if you happen to be married to my wife, you’d better get used to a discussion about it whenever it happens. Snider’s abrupt exit from the stage at the AMA awards show last week brought up the sore subject once more, but in my house, the early departure that we hear about most occurred in Jackson earlier this year when Snider walked off stage during recent his book/movie/concert tour. I think the folks in the back of the venue were a little loud, maybe Snider got frustrated during the request-a-song portion of the evening, and just left. The promoter came onstage and apologized (it was unclear whether the apology was on behalf of the rude audience members or Snider), then several members of my family and a few friends sat there and talked about it while we finished our beers.
Snider and my family have a little history when it comes to less-than-complete appearances. I should explain that my three oldest sons and I are big Snider fans, while my wife and daughter could take or leave him. They have generally been properly respectful, sometimes even attentive, as we listened to the story behind the “Ballad of the Devil’s Backbone Tavern” on Near Truths and Hotel Rooms for the 100th time. A few years ago, we went to Telluride and there was Snider on the bill, and he had a couple of the Yonder Mountain guys playing as his “band.” “This is gonna be great,” said I. Malinda smiled patronizingly, but remained respectful, even attentive, when the time came for Snider to play. If only he had played for the time allotted, but alas, he did not. The Yonder guys talked him into coming back out for a bit more, but he didn’t stay. He didn’t seem to get mad or anything, he just played a song or two, then left again. Oh well.
Back to the discussion after the Jackson show, Malinda was there, but she did not remain respectful, and she was not attentive to our attempts to defend our hero as we basked in the bluish afterglow of the early exit. In fact, we were required to remain respectful and attentive as she not only told us he sucked, but, to use Snider’s words from the “Ballad of the Devil’s Backbone Tavern” story, she just went on and on about it.
Then came the Americana Music Association show. Snider and his Hard Working Americans performed, and apparently he just walked off before the song was over. Here’s what Adam Gold (writing for Rolling Stone) said about it:
One of the night’s weirder moments came midway through the show, when, near the end of a performance by relatively new supergroup Hard Working Americans, member Todd Snider — looking like an Americana Tommy Lee with his sagging trousers and undershirt combo — mumbled some kind of jumbled, profanity-laced banter before picking up a small duffle bag and, looking rather pissed, sauntered off stage with rock star swagger as the band finished the tune “Down to the Well.” Whether he was miffed by something in particular, or it was just a case of “Todd being Todd,” was later a topic of post-show debate in the Ryman lobby.
Gold also writes for Nashville Scene, and posted about the incident there. But in that post, he raised the question of whether Snider might be on acid during shows. In a way, that would be a good thing, because it would explain his erratic behavior. But it just doesn’t ring true to me, even for a guy who wrote a song about a guy who pitched a no-hitter while on LSD. Gold wasn’t making this up or just speculating, though, he was passing along something that Snider told the Washington Post:
“I take acid for the shows,” Snider says by phone from a recording studio in Hendersonville, Tenn., not far from his home in East Nashville. “It’s like having front row. It’s what I would do anyway on my night off, except every eight minutes I have to dive up there and sing.”
After the AMA deal, Malinda said, “Go ahead and defend him, you’d still like him if he spat on you.” Maybe if that happened, it would make it hard, but for now I’m going to keep liking Todd Snider right up until the point of saliva. The guy’s a genius, even if a bit of a stoner-type of genius. I do wish he would take his obligation to the fans at his concerts a little more seriously, and hopefully that will become the norm in the future. Sometimes there are circumstances that make a touring musician want to walk off stage, but the best course is to follow this sage advice: “Even when the beer bottle seems to be coming at you, it’s not yours to know why it’s coming at you. Sing. That’s yours. That’s what you want to do, right? Sing. Don’t be a bitch.” ~ Todd Snider, I Never Met A Story I Didn’t Like.