Satirist with a heart’s Plan may not turn the economy around, but it’s great company for the down-and-out
The problem with laughing off a bona-fide wiseass is all that pesky wisdom. And the formerly hard-livin’ Snider—while a veritable sultan of snark—has got that in spades.
From the first notes of plucky, percussive country-blues opener “Slim Chance,” he begins slyly imparting his underdog witticisms: “I found a four-leaf clover,” he sings, “
it had one leaf missing
that’s close enough for me.” And it’s about time somebody wrote a ballad about infamous Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis (“America’s Favorite Pastime”), who claims to have thrown a no-hitter on LSD. Ellis is the perfect misfit character for Snider, who has already penned songs about mysterious airline hijacker D.B. Cooper and the guy who carries the boombox in Mike Tyson’s entourage.
If there’s a Great American Songwriter nowadays—someone whose finger is simultaneously on the pulse of the country’s history, its modern folklore, politics, religion and the general zeitgeist—it’s Snider. He’s a laidback Jon Stewart with an acoustic guitar, a sniper on the periphery of pop culture, sneaking deadly accurate shots at all the baffling pomp and mixed-up priorities in this crazy land.
But what makes his commentary palatable—in addition to Snider’s non-confrontational, nice-guy personality—is that he’d just as soon turn the crosshairs on himself, which he does with his cover of Robert Earl Keen’s heartfelt alcoholic’s lament “Corpus Christi Bay” and his own “Greencastle Blues,” a plainspoken, reflective tune that alternates between piano ballad and country-rock anthem, lyrically courting early Tom Waits all the way. Snider aspires that his new album will be “part of your solution” to the economic crisis; Excitement Plan—like its author—is full of hope, realism, humor and just enough crazy to weather the storm.
Listen to tracks from The Excitement Plan on Todd Snider's MySpace.