Todd Snider Road Journal: Volume 11, March 2004

i think its funny that they booed santa
and i love to play
in all my years playing i have encountered almost every situation
and have almost found a way to handle every situation
one time a girl flew from a rope swing into the drums
in a band i was in called kk rider…..i played rhythm.
that didnt fluster or stop us in the least.
fist fights, arrests, people talking over me and amongst themselves, booing,
requests, singing along, even yelling the same thing over and over
none of this bothers me
i am not a folk nazi who needs everybody to sit quietly and listen to me sing of wolves and birds….what
happpened in philly is just quite frankly one of the few areas in touring where a crowd can take me somewhere i
dont want to go
and leave me there with no way out..
its not put downs, or cat calls, or even heckling
i can handle “you suck”
i can kinda get into it
but if its a sold out show and everyone is there to see me
and i have a real cool plan in my head that im excited to share with everyone
that i know will really be fun and impress that friend they drug out
my prayer is always that the crowd will just let me do it
unfortunately sometimes (not often) there will be some loud guy or some loud guys trying to get under the lights
this guy usually has a nickname and would be my drinking buddy under other circumstances
the kinda guy id probably rather hang with around my neighborhood
but wouldnt want at my show
skip was like that a while….i didnt let skip go to my shows at first.
he ruined them
i used to have to tell skip he was ruining the show by yelling at me everytime i tried to talk or sing…..he got it
and stopped
he made up for it by being tougher on me off stage……
philly did not
nor did they stop
they really just kept yelling at me about how to smile or laugh or what to play
and it interrupted every chance i had to talk to them or get a rhythm going
i cant concentrate on my shows when other people try to create parts for themselves in them
(as in the want me to, “engage them in a way that draws attention to them.””
and often times its more than one guy
the worst part is that only they and i can hear this….
the back row only sees the flustered guy in the lights
they dont see the drunk in the dark

in philly
the first few rows were trying to start conversations with me
i mean like eight or ten guys
trying to start conversations
about god knows what all
i just couldnt concentrate anymore
so i split.
i mean …..i couldnt remember lyrics and stories.
i hate that people think i threw a fit
i didnt throw anymore of a fit than a guy whose john deere breaks down in the middle of a job.
just one of those ….”oh well……fuck” episodes

i couldnt tell how or if the rest of the crowd was digging it
the front was too loud and intruding
yelling at me to laugh and asking me about my clothes
i hear it all
even as i sipped water
some woman would be yelling at me to smile
which i found annoying
but honestly,just all the people asking questions before during and after songs
broke my talent threshhold
and people say well you gotta be able to handle that
to be in show biz
i know
thats why im barely in show biz.
you may have noticed guys who really have this down
say springsteen
you may have also noticed
play way bigger rooms than me…..
just like a guy whose great at football
but not quite fast enough for the pros..
not only can i live with that fact, im alive with it.
i cant remember stories or words when this kind of thing happens
im not saying it shouldnt happen
i think people should pay there money and do what they want to do
whatever that is.
and i want to be there and learn and work at this til i can handle every situation
i was up all night after philly asking myself what i could have done different
i came up with alot of ideas….but…its like making a list of what youll do in a car wreck and then the
wreck comes and you realize that ,list or not, your just gonna scream
i want the crowd to leave happy ….very happy
its just that sometimes what they want me to do makes what i want to do
nobody heckled or said anything mean
and i think everyone was just trying to have fun
and i think the college kids thought i was enjoying our banter
but i was really just losing my train of thought and getting dizzy
i even over heard some college kid say
“fuck with him dudes, he loves it, it makes him do better, fuck with him”
well…..this is totally untrue
my shows are kinda planned
nevertheless they went on to interrupt every story and song i did
at a volume level only i could hear
so to the back row i probably looked angry and frustrated
and they couldnt tell why
couldnt tell what i was fighting
they just saw a guy with the easiest job in the world
looking like a flustered ungrateful angry asshole…
and man that makes me sad
sad to think people see me like that sometimes
and even sadder to think its true sometimes
i asked the front row of college kids and older guys stuck in college mode, politely, off mic, to stop but
they didnt ….so i took a break
i took a break cuz one guy kept yelling “youre scaring me”…between during and after the songs..
if you recall i said “i dont want to scare anyone so ill take a break”

after the break
the guy with the zollo sticker (that i loved)
kept trying to start conversations with me between and during songs again
“hey dude….jack ingram says he dont owe you shit”
this he yelled to me at a volume only i could hear
while i was trying to tell my story and play my song about horseshoe lake
i aborted the song
its the one distraction my talent cant cover.
it confuses me.
i think catering to this behavior would be worse in the long run
for the kind of career i want
i dont want to do the carol burnette crowd participation comedy
i want to do a show……without somebody trying to steal it.
its probably too much to ask
but i feel its better to look like an ass , than to send twelve guys home with the message

“yes i do want to be talked to,
rowdied up,
and fucked with between songs.
please bring more buddies to do this next time.”

honestly id rather fail
which i may do….
and if i do that will be my problem
and it will make some people in philly happy
others sad
either way
i’ve never showed up at a concert in a bad mood, i was really happy and excited to be there
it was just one of those nights where the crowd wanted to control the show
and i dont know how to do that ….its beyond my skill level
so i guess im kinda sorry to the cool people in the back that felt ripped off
i thought the show was alright right up til the front row got involved
i didnt think i came out looking mad
i came out excited
was i sick?
yeah….airlines….i get colds in planes all the time
and ive played through a million
that had nothing to do with this …..i had plenty of energy
i just could not hear my self over the questions i was being asked
by the front rows
Before during and after songs
this is how the show ended,
“it wont work this morning, i cant punch….”

“hey todd dude , did you do a song about george bush dude?”


“theres to many questions….”

“dude are you gonna do alright guy or what….i mean your break was like an hour”

“under my skin…………..

and then i said
“god bless all of you”
and left.
i’ve never claimed to be proffesional or complained about the money i’ve missed out on
because of this.
if you want to see some driven dedicated goal oriented crowd pleaser of an artist in concert
there is clay aikin and rueben studdard on tour all this year
and nobody has seen them enough to think they know what all there facial expressions
mean… theres a good chance (at least at the first show)
that everyone will think there having a blast
i always have a blast …..but my facial expressions have been around so long
that people know me better than i do….
im sorry if you felt ripped off in philly. i am doing the best i can
to be the best i can and give people their moneys worth
i fail sometimes….and i admit it….
sometimes i cant admit it
without some ego attached excuse pinned in…..but i admit it.
if you still like me
i still like you
and if you hate me now
ill keep trying to like you anyway
and probably will….
so i did a show and some of you hated it….which means it decision time
and as yogi berra says
“if you see a fork in the road……take it”