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
Todd Snider rules! He seems well-placed in the country genre, but at ease pushing its boundaries, or in another genre altogether.
It’s pretty charitable to call anything that Snider does in this song “singing.”
I do think that you make a good point about Snider mixing humor with social commentary. I didn’t expect to like this album given that I’m not much of a Snider fan to begin with, dislike blatantly political projects and disagree with Snider’s political views besides. Having heard the entire album, I found the writing to be of sufficient depth that it’s possible to willfully ignore the political content, but it definitely must be a willful act.
“That ain’t flyin'”…Awesome. I don’t mind political songs or projects as long as they’re well-written. So I’ll probably pick up Peace Queer, no problem.
On an unrelated note, does anyone else find Snider quite reminiscent of Big Kenny? I’d like for those them and Hayes Carll to get together for a “doppelgangers” trio album or something.
Dan, great comparison to Big Kenny…at least Big Kenny’s solo project. I really like Snider, thanks to Kevin’s recommendation of the past. I’m looking forward to the new album. This song is fun. I, too, like how he mixes politics with humor. Sometimes, that’s the only way to get someone’s attention.
Dan, I believe the album will be available for free from the 11th to the 31st of October in celebration of his birthday.
Jeez, Brady, you sure know how to hook a fella up! We need to correspond more often…
Heh, sure thing, Dan. Glad to help out however I can.