Album: Live: Return of the Storyteller
. . .
I’ve never seen him, but based upon the evidence of his three live albums — 2003’s Todd Snider Live: Near Truths and Hotel Rooms, 2011’s Live: The Storyteller, and 2022’s Live: Return of The Storyteller are all worthwhile — and the deeper we get into his career, the more worthwhile they get. So my favorite is the most recent, which opens with “Big Finish” and ends with “Opening Statement,” and hits after peak after peak in the middle.
Like his other two live albums, Return of the Storyteller is punctuated with stories in between the songs, I prefer the songs to the stories because I love the stories in the songs. And because though is basically just Snider, an acoustic guitar and (maybe) a harmonica, even the hardest-rocking studio tracks are boiled down to their absolute essence in their live versions. But it also means that without having to worry about a band, Snider can sing the songs at their own pace, letting the songs sing him as much as he’s singing them.
Like “Too Soon to Tell,” which was a guitar-heavy countryish ramble on 2012’s Agnostic Hymms & Stoner Fables, Snider’s very funny, very searching lyrics getting a bit lost in the clang and clamour. Not so in this live version, as “Too Soon to Tell” reveals an artist whose worries are getting any less worrisome as he hits his mid-50s.
Tennis shoes hangin’ from a telephone wire
I’ve got a little money, I could get a little higher
I was alright awhile but you know how it goes
Everything in moderation, including moderation I suppose
And the chorus of “Too Soon to Tell” explains what he’s really worried about.
It’s too soon to tell
It’s too soon to tell
Too soon to tell by and by
It’s too soon to tell what’s goin’ to happen to you when you die
Oh. Right. That. Which is why the next verses rail against the vast indifference of heaven.
It’s too soon to tell what we’ll ever avenge
They say that living well is the best revenge
I say, “Bullshit, the best revenge is revenge”
This isn’t over, we’re going to meet again
And good Lord if you’re up there, you sure got some nerve
Seems like even the wicked get worse than they deserve
We’re afraid to die, every goddamn one of us
I swear to God it’s like you’re makin’ fun of us
Not worth keepin’, or too good to keep
You got a better kinda secret, better wait ’til I’m asleep
And if you’re so God almighty well then what’s with all this mystery?
Yes, I wanna trust you, buddy, but you’re clearly keeping secrets from me
Yes, it’s another one of those song where I just want to quote pretty much every single verse, because ever single yone has an absolute gems, including “You too will wake up one morning with a lot more memories than dreams” which is almost as good as “bullshit, the best revenge is revenge.” Almost.
This is the last of the Todd Snider songs I’m writing about, but he literally just released another album this last week, and so I plan to continue to dig into his discography for as long as he releases records.
“Too Soon to Tell (Live)”
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