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Todd Snider becomes the devil you know

By Jason MacNeil, September 2006

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"My wife helped me with that," Snider says. "Part of me thought that I don't want (the album) to go by without me poking fun at the conservative type people because it's just fun to do. I like to watch David Letterman do it, and I don't take it anymore seriously than that. I like to make fun of the president, and I'll make fun of the next one too. It's not personal as much as I like to have a little thing going about modern times."

"But I didn't want to say George Bush. When I try to do something like that, I try to make it so that it feels about a certain person. But I was very careful to make sure that if you wanted it to be about the Kennedys, it can. I feel like it dates the song less, and it's already a dated endeavor you're embarking on."

As pleasing as those tunes are, the album's first single is the fun, catchy and roots-y "Looking For A Job." A video for the song was also shot showing Snider driving around with "Quit Your Job" spray painted on the side of his van and encouraging others to follow suit.

"That was one of the first ones that popped up," Snider says. "My manager and I were in an argument, and he told me, 'Man, I was looking for a job when I found this one.' I thought, 'That's great man! Can I have that?' I just sat on that one for months. The only thing I could relate it to in a conversational tone was my father was a construction worker, and I heard his employees turn on him a few times."

"I don't know if you've ever been around a boomtown where they're building a million houses, but it ends up being the carpenters telling the foreman what time he can be there, and the foreman deals with it. I just wanted to say, 'Watch what you say to someone with nothing, it's almost like having it all.' That's something I've been probably wanting to get off my chest all of my life."

Aside from the new album, Snider also had a hand in putting together his own collection of favorites for "That Was Me: The Best Of Todd Snider 1994-1998." The album, released in 2005, was a feather in Snider's cap.

"They called me up after I moved to Nashville and said, 'We're doing a Best Of, and we want you to do it for us," he says. "That was really gracious. They didn't have to call me. They could have picked the songs and pictures that they liked. Most of my friends like Drivin' N' Cryin' said, 'Man, I found out about my Best Of record when I saw it at the store.' So I was really touched that they cared enough to let me pick what I wanted."

"I don't think I put any of the singles on there, I never liked our singles," he continues. "It was like I was almost going to take that off the record. But I don't care, you guys are making a video, there's going to be free food and drinks at it. I'll be there."

And in a day where several artists are so critical and concerned about the effects the internet has on their music and more importantly their bottom line, Snider definitely sees the silver lining.

"I'm about to play this festival tonight with the Yonder Mountain String Band, and I don't know how many people are going to be there," he says. "But I don't know if tonight would be happening if there wasn't an internet. I know there's going to be 2,000 people coming tonight, but I can't for the life of me figure out where they might have heard about it. Some people I tour with may say, 'I wonder how come you can tour these days and have a nice life and not necessarily hear yourself on the radio?'"

It's this nice life on the road that Snider has nestled into over the years, but he says the last two years of touring have been his most favorite.

"I've never gotten tired of it," he says. "I guess I'm getting older, and we've got this country pretty wired right now. I know what restaurant I want to go to when I'm in a town, and I know where I want to go. I know where I'm going after the show tonight. I feel like America is my neighborhood, and I'm starting to learn it."

Snider toured throughout the summer behind the album and has several dates set for the U.S. in the fall. There's a New Year's Eve show set for St. Louis where he'll have Bottle Rockets backing him. And, although he talks about trying to record new material as well, there will probably be several radio and television appearances between now and then.

Just don't ask him for exact dates or times. He's not exactly the type to study his itinerary.

"I'm terrible with keeping up with it, but I'm always there."

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