Album: Songs For The Daily Planet
. . .
Todd Snider first came to my attention when the hidden track from his 1994 debut, Songs For The Daily Planet, became a minor radio hit on alt-rock radio. That song was “Talkin’ Seattle Grunge Rock Blues,” a satirical diss on the reluctant rock stars of the era, which told a story of a band that was so reluctant that they wouldn’t even play their songs, which of course made them massive stars, a situation that led to an inevitable mid-1990s scene:
Then we got asked to play MTV unplugged
You should have seen it
We went right out there and refused to do acoustical versions of the
Electrical songs we had refused to record in the first place
Then we smashed our shit
By the end of the song, which also quotes Neil Young and Kurt Cobain while name-dropping Eddie Vedder, the band is dropped by their label and moves back to Athens. For some reason, this seems funnier 30 years later than it did in the wake of Kurt Cobain’s death, and I either ignored Songs For The Daily Planet at the time, or — even worse — I bought it and didn’t like it. I honestly can’t remember. Maybe it was too on-target, which I understand now is part of the point of a talking blues. Either way, I didn’t pay any attention to Snider for the next decade.
Which is on me, because at some point in the mid-2000s — I think it was either East Nashville Skyline or The Devil You Know — I stopped ignoring him, and now I think he’s one of the very very best singer-songwriters of my generation. And so, a few years ago, I went back and checked out his debut album, and — outside of the wisdom that comes with staying alive — it was all there from the start, like the opening track of Songs For The Daily Planet, the rollicking “My Generation (Part 2),” which opens like this:
Did you know that there are people who put us down
For no other reason than the simple fact that we get around?
My Generation, Part Two, Verse Three, Chapter Four
Jackson Five, Nikki Sixx
This is followed by a harmonica solo — we’re dealing with country-tinged folk-rock here, kids — and and verse that sets up a not unusual confrontation for the mid-1990s: his Boomer dad telling him that the his (ours) (my) generation ain’t worth shit. And so on the chorus, Snider lists all the things that made us (him) (Gen X) so great.
So here’s to hair gel
Hangin’ out at the health spa
Usin’ condom sense
And watchin’ L.A. Law
Here’s to drum machines
Credit cards, fax machines
Big bow-headed chicks and frat guys
Wearin’ forty dollar tie-dyed t-shirts
And big bold paisley ties
Here’s to livin’ off dad as long as you can
And blendin’ in with the crowd
Oh, my generation
My generation should be proud
Ha! Even now, I find this funnier than the “Talkin’ Seattle Grunge Rock Blues.” Either way, it’s a pretty good start to a career that is still going strong. Literally: he just dropped a new album that I haven’t yet heard. But will.
“My Generation (Part 2)”
“My Generation (Part 2)” Live Acoustic, 2020
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