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Todd Snider Marks 30 Years With Remade Albums, Secret “Files”

Todd Snider
Brian Blauser
Todd Snider

Music scenes make their stamp on history through an uncontrollable and semi-magical alignment of artists and creators, venues, fans, and neighborhoods. But they also need characters. And if somebody writes a book about East Nashville’s epic 21st century journey as one of the greatest (and longest-lasting) music scenes in America, Todd Snider ought to be the main character - on the cover, on page one, and in the epilogue.

Snider, possibly the greatest solo songwriting raconteur of the past quarter century, blends an eye for truth with a delight in the absurd. As East Nashville’s musical mayor and its hippie Hemingway, it’s impossible to imagine the character of 37206 without him. And now, after building a virtual ark for sanity during the pandemic with The Get Together online series, the most innovative album of his career (First Agnostic Church of Hope And Wonder), a live collection (Return Of The Storyteller), and an acclaimed release of the shelved 2007 album Crank It, We’re Doomed, Snider has revealed his latest concepts to the world.

Last Friday, the rascal poet launched his new “All My Songs” project, more formally named Aimless Records Presents: Songs For The Daily Planet – Recorded at The Purple Building. It began with an all-new, solo version of his 1994 debut Songs From The Daily Planet, with its career-making songs “Alright Guy,” “Easy Money,” and “Talkin’ Seattle Grunge Rock Blues.” Then every month until December, Snider will release Todd’s Versions of every album in his catalog as part of a year-long celebration of his 30th anniversary of record-making. The collections were recorded during 2020 and 2021 as part of Snider’s online shows from his beloved, psychedelic headquarters at 107 N. 11th Street at Five Points. By year’s end, all eleven of them will be on the streaming services or available for free download at ToddSnider.net.

There is also a premium component of this anniversary extravaganza - a subscription-based journal and content stream via Substack called The Snider Files written and edited by Nashville journalist Daryl Sanders.

“I was sitting on all this material,” Sanders told me. Because he’d invested time working on a book that was “aborted by the pandemic” in 2020. “I have recorded interviews with Todd about every single song he's ever written. Plus a lot of other stuff and interviews with 30 or so people who are part of his story over time.” This was built on a friendship that goes back almost 20 years, and Sanders has had a close eye on Todd’s evolving work for years.

Launched in December, The Snider Files includes exclusive interviews, strange and beautiful anecdotes, Snider’s beat poetry, unreleased mixes of songs, video and photography from fellow Todd Snider chronicler Stacie Huckeba, and who-knows-what as the year progresses. February included a riff by Todd about making a strategic plan in case he happens to meet Bob Dylan and a four-part ghost story about Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, and Snider’s band the Hard Working Americans that’s pure gold.

Sanders is a veteran scribe who writes regularly for the Nashville Scene. I covered him here as author of the Bob Dylan book That Thin Wild Mercury Sound: Dylan, Nashville, And The Making of Blonde On Blonde. He calls Snider “a really really great songwriter” who earned the sustained admiration of Jimmy Buffett (his first label head), John Prine (his label head later on), Billy Joe Shaver, Kris Kristofferson, Guy Clark and other legends. And like them, he’s larger than life and in just about all cases, funnier.

“What ultimately matters, and what's gonna live on, is his songs,” Sanders says. “But when I look at all the things that are connected to the songs, all the stories, it's like Led Zeppelin. I mean, it's these rock star stories.”

For those partaking only of the freely offered All My Songs recordings, the good news is there’s plenty of story there for you too, if Songs For The Daily Planet is any indication. It opens with a four-minute narration from Todd about writing his first song in Texas, getting turned on to the great songwriters, moving to Memphis, and landing a regular gig at the Daily Planet, and winning over the college rugby players who hung out there. With every song, it’s like hanging out with Todd Snider, and every right-thinking person wants to do that.

Release dates For “All My Songs”:

2/23 - Songs for the Daily Planet
3/29 - Step Right Up
4/26 - Viva Satellite
5/31 - Happy To Be Here
6/28 - New Connection
7/26 - East Nashville Skyline
8/30 - The Devil You Know
9/27 - Peace Queer / Excitement Plan / Eastside Bulldogs
(Crank It, We're Doomed)
10/25 - Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables
11/29 - Cash Cabin Sessions, Vol. 3
12/27 - First Agnostic Church of Hope and Wonder

Craig Havighurst is WMOT's editorial director and host of The String, a weekly interview show airing Mondays at 8 pm, repeating Sundays at 7 am. He also co-hosts The Old Fashioned on Saturdays at 9 am and Tuesdays at 8 pm. Threads and Instagram: @chavighurst. Email: craig@wmot.org