Sometime in the fall of 1994 I was sixteen years old with a job at McDonald’s, a hand-me-down 1981 Honda Accord and a healthy addiction to music. There was a fairly new radio station out of Atlanta, the early wave of X stations, that started playing an acoustic song. It reminded me of Tom Petty but this song was funny. It took a couple of times on the radio for me o learn it was a guy named Todd Snider and the song was called “Talkin’ Seattle Grunge Rock Blues.” Needless to say, this song spoke to me and I wanted to spend some of my McDonald’s money on that album.
We had a Blockbuster Music in Athens in those days and they had recently added the listening station to the store. This was revolutionary. You could walk into the store, pick out a CD and they would open it up and let you listen to it. I’m certain I annoyed more than my fair share of Blockbuster Music employees. (But look at me now)
For reasons I can’t explain, I remember walking into BBM to find the Todd Snider CD. The employee was a short, skinny guy with thin black hair and glasses, I’m pretty sure he had helped me before. I found the CD but didn’t recognize the song title on the back. I asked the guy if I could listen to it. I sat there on the blue, vinyl-lined barstool and skimmed each song on Songs From The Daily Planet. Nothing. I told the guy I had heard a song by that guy on the radio but it wasn’t on the CD. I might not have known the title at this point. He didn’t know what I was talking about and he looked up on his pre-internet computer and saw that Todd Snider had no previous CDs. It was a mystery and I left the store unsatisfied.
Later, I was listening to the same X station and the DJ played the song and mentioned it was a hidden track on Songs From The Daily Planet. Of course. I took some of my McDonald’s money back to Blockbuster Music and bought the CD from the same employee. I don’t know if he remembered me and asked or if I volunteered that I had been in before. I told him that the song was a hidden track. We both agreed that kind of thing was a pain in the ass.
But I promised you Todd Snider was a prophet and so far all I’ve talked about is my childhood. On the song “Talkin’ Seattle Grunge Rock Blues” Todd talks about being an alternative band to the steady stream of alternative bands. He claimed to be in the only band that never played a note. They didn’t receive much commercial success until they told record labels that they were from Seattle. Suddenly the band was a hit and got asked to play MTV Unplugged. Haha, the 90’s were fun.
Then, a few weeks ago I was listening to NPR (see the trend) and they talked to a band that recorded an album of silence and put it on Spotify. The band is called Vulfpeck and the album is called Sleepify. They recorded thirty second clips of silence and asked their fans to stream it on Spotify on repeat over and over again. Their idea was to generate enough funds to go on tour and play shows for free. Now, this seems like a great and noble idea, when I read this interview in Rolling Stone it seems that the band isn’t that bright about the realities of touring. Apparently, they have generated about five grand but asked their agent if that was enough to get a bus, or something like that.
I’m not sure if that’s what Todd Snider was talking about 20 years ago (Jesus, has it been that long) but if Todd suggests marching to the end of the earth I’m going to consider his directive very carefully.