August 5, 2008
Todd Snider has the social conscience of a Rodney Crowell, mixed with the wry, detached humor of a Mitch Hedberg. Too many artists lose their sense of humor when they attempt to make social commentary, but Snider uses humor to strengthen his. The result is akin to a stand-up on a soapbox.
All of this is evident on the lead single from his upcoming album, Peace Queer. The title may be a shout-out to that infamous 2003 banner, but the humor is found in the parentheses. The song blends the rhythm of a military march with the guitar hook from George Michael’s “Faith.”
The first verse begins with an anecdote about Will Rogers, and is followed by one of Snider’s most amusing lines to date: “I met a girl with a Midas touch. I could never get her to touch very much.” Weightier observations soon emerge, and there’s a reference to man taking flight that is simply brilliant.
I couldn’t help but think about Gandhi’s “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind” when Snider sings, with slight exasperation, “Fighting for peace? That’s like screaming for quiet.”
But the most interesting part of the song is the final minute, where he repeats variations of “I don’t know, but I’ve been told” until his message is clear: None of us have any idea what’s really going on, and the government and media are making sure of it.
Socrates once said, “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” Snider is a very wise man.
Written by Todd Snider