Songwriter Todd Snider is one of those musicians whose work habits are similar to the life of a junkie.
His songwriting is a love-hate relationship, a monkey on his back thats often more than hes bargained for and constantly trying to quit. Snider coexists with his output of work, which is hundreds of songs that he cant remember and more than a dozen records with more on the way.
Last month he released Agnostic Hymns and Stoner Fables, and last week he released a tribute to Jerry Jeff Walker, produced in Nashville, Tenn., by Don Was and featuring loads of guests, including Leftover Salmons Vince Herman.
Snider will return to the Henry Strater Theatre on Saturday night. Opening the show will be Eric Brace and Pete Cooper.
Snider remains charming and funny, even when hes criticizing his own work ethic.
I make up more songs than I probably should. I am one of them people that sort of compulsively makes up songs, and Im actually trying to quit. I think I might have shook it; Id like to stop, Snider said.
Ive got so many, and I dont know them all, so Id like to spend some time learning some of the older ones, he said. It seems like theres always a new record out. I told everyone on our team were going to put out these two and go on an eight-year tour.
Colorado remains a favorite place for Snider to play. He often plays with The Yonder Mountain String Band but hes not necessarily a jam-band guy, favoring funny tales and between-song banter to musical improvisation.
Agnostic Hymns and Stoner Fables is a departure from his last several records, called dark by some critics, although he doesnt see it that way.
I think its kind of a delightful record, or pleasant, he said. Some of my friends say it sounds dark. I think there are songs in minor keys that may be a part of it. I mostly just try to open my little heart up, and then whatever is in there I try not to be a wimp about letting out.
Sniders songwriting can be autobiographical, drunken stories from his youth or sharp criticisms of those in public office. And though some of his songs may be political and he gets lumped into the category of protest singer, he doesnt see himself as a protest musician. He sees himself as a dude on the road honestly expressing himself, and he doesnt care if you like it or not.
Im a storyteller with a guitar or a stoner folk singer, he said. The thing I like is to have that gig where every night is a Saturday and every day is a Sunday and I get to be part of that Saturday night all the time and sing songs. I like that part, and it seems like the best way to keep that job is to be honest and share your opinion.
But if the best way to keep that job is to be dishonest and not share my opinion, I would probably do that, Snider said. I like touring, and thats the reason I share my opinions, not because I think theyre smart or because people need to know them. Its because they rhyme and I know three chords.
Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. Reach him at Liggett_b@fortlewis.edu.