Aplscruf's Music Blog

Diary of a Married Groupie

Todd Snider Sells Out

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Aladdin Theater  Portland, OR

4/30/2016

Todd Snider sometimes tells the tale of when he almost sold out to Garth Brooks who wanted to change the lyrics to one of Todd’s songs, “Alright Guy” and record it on his rock album as alter ego Chris Gaines. The lyrics include the phrase, “maybe I smoke a little dope”, but Todd claims, “not that I do, it just rhymes with Pope.” Garth wanted to change the lyrics to something less, uh, damaging to his career. Todd’s friends told him he shouldn’t sell out, but he was “…already thinking about what kind of car I’d trade that fuckin’ van in for!”

Todd is the king of the yarn, a raggedy raconteur. On this particular evening, he told another Brooks tale about how one of Garth’s writers stole Todd’s song, “Beer Run”, claiming that if you change enough words and the melody, it’s not exactly stealing. So Todd, not wanting to have to get dressed up and go downtown and sit through meetings, had a brilliant idea and came up with his own song entitled, “If Tomorrow Never Comes” and made sure to follow the writer’s advice. Now, Todd can tell the story in much more detail, followed by a rollicking version of the song in question. Fans lined up in front of The Aladdin Theater in Portland know that. All three shows sold out.

Saturday morning rolled around, and I wasn’t in the mood to drive three hours to Portland in heavy traffic. My weekends are piling up, and I was longing for quiet time at home. P purchased tickets weeks ago, though, so that was that. Also, I feared Todd Snider’s solo show wouldn’t hold up to the ones we’ve seen in the past where he was animated and engaged—and so funny. There were rumors circling about his health and how he’s not the same ol’ Todd when he’s in Hard Working Americans, even though the supergroup rocks. I heard he was feeling better, and ready to take on these three nights in his home state.

When we were about to head out the door, I received a call from our friend C who was headed back home after seeing Todd’s second show. He absolutely raved about how Todd was dialed in, was engaged with the crowd, had the audience in stitches with his stories in between songs, and was musically in fine form. Suddenly, I was ready to take on Todd Snider again. Let’s hit the road!

Off we went, running into snags of traffic in Tacoma and near the border, crossing the great bridge that spans The Columbia and into Portland. We inched our way downtown and relied on GPS to find our hotel. After meeting our friend L at Hair of The Dog Brewery (the best brewery in Portland in our not-so-humble opinions), we headed to the show.

We stopped by The Lamp next door to The Aladdin  first and met a few more friends for a bite to eat. I love the Todd Snider culture. Everyone there in the group met at either a Todd show or some other related show, like Widespread Panic, Phish or Grateful Dead, etc. We actually met our friend L in 2009 at a Todd show in Reno.

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We found seats stage right and settled in. The show started after 8 with Rorey Carroll, a beautiful female folk singer with a sultry, ethereal voice and a sailor’s mouth. Todd came out and introduced her, and mentioned he is producing her album. She had a lanky awkwardness about her that was endearing to the audience, who cheered her on throughout her short set. We enjoyed her set, drawn in by her vocals and ballads as she lightly strummed her acoustic guitar. In between songs, she bantered with the crowd. There were many people who attended all three shows, and they were calling for songs near the end and she argued about which ones she was going to play. “Not the murder song!”

After a brief intermission, Todd Snider came out to hearty cheers and started his long set with “In Between Jobs”.

He spoke of his problems with his back and his arthritis, and how he got to the point where he could only sit down to play. He took a couple months to rest and recover and feels better now. It showed in his performance. He was on point–dialed in, as our friend C said. He was chatty and engaging, honest and self-deprecating. He deftly plowed through song after song, with heart and humor. I only heard one bobble with lyrics, and we must give him credit. In one of the first shows I ever saw him play, he’d forgotten the lines to one of his songs and had to stop and back up. “I forgot the words. But think of how many I remembered!” Classic.

Setlist (as listed on Todd Snider’s Facebook Page) with my notes to the right:

In Between Jobs
Happy New Year
[18 Minutes Into]
[Final Night]
In The Beginning
[HWA Church] – Todd spoke of his time as frontman with Hard Working Americans. He said he enjoyed playing with HWA because he could sing a few lines and step away from the mic as they went into some long jam session. He could nod his head and spin around a little, just 10 feet away from what he used to do in the audience anyway, so why not do it on stage?  But fans of his solo work would knock on the tour bus after the show, confused, offended, and upset that he wasn’t up on stage spinnin’ yarns and playing his acoustic guitar: “Is this what you’re doing from now on?” And Todd would respond, “No, this is what I did tonight.”
Greencastle Blues
[The Last Three Nights]
Too Soon To Tell
[The Last Verse…]
Beer Run
[Garth Brooks Story]
If Tomorrow Never Comes
Is This Thing Working
The Last Laugh
Carla
The Devil You Know – After the song was finished, he raised in arms in triumph like a prize fighter and exclaimed, “That song had a lot of words, too!”
Looking For A Job
[Jewett Sucks]
Doublewide Blues – with one of the lyrics changed to “I don’t get out much anymore since terrorism…”
Vinyl Records
Alright Guy – An audience singalong of the chorus ensued
D.B. Cooper – the ballad of the local hero/villain who jumped out of an airplane with a bag of stolen money, never to be seen again
Talkin’ Seattle Grunge Rock Blues – one of the songs which put Todd on the musical map in the 90’s
[Drive-Thru Story]
Stuck On The Corner >
Johnny B. Goode – “Most of my songs are based on this song’s melody…”
[Grateful]
[Jerry Jeff Walker Story] which stretched out to a coked-up evening decades ago where Todd was flopping like a fish outta water on Jerry Jeff’s dining room table. The next morning, Jerry Jeff was standing naked over Todd as he lay on the couch, exclaiming, “Never again, boy, never again.”
Mr. Bojangles -Mr. Bojangles in Santa Fe at 3 am – One of those once-in-a-lifetime magical moments when Todd and Jerry Jeff are out in the middle of nowhere, on a deserted street in Santa Fe, and here’s this kid playing “Mr. Bojangles” on guitar, with a hat on the ground, busking for tips. And here’s Jerry Jeff, the author of the song, soaking it all in. Todd thought twice about telling the kid he’s playing the song that was written by the man standing in front of him. When the busker was finished, Jerry Jeff unloaded his wallet into his hat (well, Todd embellished, I believe, when he said his change, his bills, his credit cards, his car keys…), and they walked away. Of course, Todd then played a tender version of “Mr. Bojangles” in honor of his friend and mentor, Jerry Jeff Walker.
e:
Big Finish
Good News Blues
Freebird – Freebird. Yes, he actually played “Freebird”, without irony, and with heart, to finish the evening. A final prize fighter stance, a smile, and a wave goodbye.

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May 3, 2016 - Posted by | 2016, Americana, Folk, Rorey Carroll, Todd Snider | , , , , ,

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