The River

Monday, August 18, 2008

"Ballad of the Kingsmen" by Todd Snider w/ the South Austin Jug Band

Going to see Todd at the Sloss Furnaces Stokin' the Fire BBQ and Music Festival on Friday.

Here's the skinny on Todd's upcoming album, "Peace Queer."

Peace Queer, The Bio
By Cokie Roberts
I was told to meet Todd Snider at the 3 Crow Bar at 1 o’clock in the afternoon. This was impossible, as Todd Snider was not at the 3 Crow Bar at 1 o’clock in the afternoon. But he showed up at 1:45, sweating and claiming to be followed. As Todd is not normally a paranoid person (ed. note: this is not true, he is quite paranoid), I wondered aloud whether his pursuers were angry that he is releasing Peace Queer, album filled with politically charged, potentially divisive material. He said, “No, that’s not it at all. Actually, I was a little too close to that Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan thing. For some of us, that’ll never be over. Never.”
None of which brings us to the matter at hand. I’m hired to do a job here. Swear to God, he’s calling this thing Peace Queer. So I ask, why Peace Queer?
“What, too commercial?” he said. “I don’t care. My intention is to outsell Thriller. And not just the Michael Jackson one. Ultimately, I believe this record will sell 6.8 billion copies. That’s not one in every home. That’s one in every hand. Well, roughly every other hand, ‘cause most people have two hands. And on the day that happens, I guarantee America and parts of Canada world peace.”
A pipe dream? Hardly, for fans of rock ‘n’ roll, folk, country and Americana music have long been held in Snider’s sway. His last album, 2006’s The Devil You Know, landed him on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno and Late Night With David Letterman, and it appeared on numerous year-end Top 10 lists. Sitting across from him at the 3 Crow, his personal charisma is in evidence. And how. The humble, youthful man from Beaverton, Oregon is a real swashbuckler. And Peace Queer is just the beginning of his typically unique vision. It is the first in a trilogy. Even as we celebrate the release of Peace Queer, Snider is already working on the follow-up, with Rolling Stones producer Don Was. After that, there will be a rock album called Shit Sandwich.
“I’m gonna make it in real time,” he said, his piercing blue-grey (sometimes they seem green, too) eyes shining towards a success-filled musical future.
For now, though, we’re here to discuss Peace Queer. And Peace Queer is, assuredly, the bomb. The album’s cover, which depicts Snider being held at gunpoint by a shirtless hippie, nods to the violence that is at the heart of all peaceful endeavors.
“Clearly, anyone who looks at the photograph can tell that I had been abducted by an international league of peace queers and forced to write protest music. You know, for their cause,” he said. “But, write this down ‘cause it’s true and it’s important: I grew sympathetic to their cause. In fact, the more often we paused for the cause the more sympathetic I grew. Maybe I was Patty Hearst shifted, but I don’t care. I’m in. I believe in our mottos and can’t wait to hear our slogan.”
Indeed, the mottos are telling.
“Our first motto is ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill,’” Snider explained. “Our second motto was, ‘Thou Shalt Not Steal,’ but then we realized we’d kind of lifted the first motto. So we dropped the second motto and just went with the one.”
Peace Queer starts with revelry, and the album includes a Civil War sea shanty, a plaintive cover of 1960’s classic “Fortunate Son,” a spoken-word number, a rocked-fueled meditation on contemporary culture (“Stuck On The Corner”), and a Fred Sanford-ish funeral dirge. The emotional centerpiece of the album is the wistful “Ponce Of The Flaming Peace Queer.”
“We’re very proud of that one,” Snider said. “It ties up the story.”
Yes, story.
“It begins like the Iraq War began: by declaring victory and then plowing forward into the long night,” Snider said. “We started our drive with an end-zone dance. Peace Queer is a six-song cycle, starting with a song called ‘Mission Accomplished.’ In six sentences, the record goes like this: Here’s the kid being told everything’s going to be great. Here’s the reality of that. Here’s that kid when he comes home a sad and banged-up and angry ‘winner.’ Here’s the breakdown of why I think that’s happening. Here’s the guy in our culture that I think is causing that to happen, and it’s not a president. And then here’s what I think is going to happen to that guy. And then we roll credits.”
Upon Peace Queer’s Aug. 19 release, listeners will hear Snider assisted by Patty Griffin, Kevn Kinney, Don Heron, Doug Lancio, Will Kimbrough and other luminaries. It’s a record of brevity, humor and hope.
“Things happen in this album besides you being told that war is wrong, with a beat,” Snider said. “I don’t know that war is wrong. I just know that I’m a peace queer, and I’m totally into it when people aren’t fighting, in my home, at the bar where I hang out or in a field a million miles away. It’s a drag to hear that people are punching each other or hurting each other.
“As an International Peace Queer, I believe that world peace is the responsibility of the individual,” he continued. “I’m not saying I’m necessarily a role model. But I will say that everybody has to do their part. And you can look at me for an example, if you must. I haven’t killed anybody in 12 years.”

Cokie Roberts wrote that?!

Lookin' forward to B'ham, and watchin' Snider live.
Nah, just a little joke (re: Cokie). Or someone who happens to have the same name.

same here.
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