Songs for the Daily Planet

album cover for todd snider's songs for the daily planet

In honor of this weekend…

Todd Snider was born in Portland, Oregon, but was raised in nearby Beaverton, where he lived until he graduated from Beaverton High School in 1985. After high school, he moved to Santa Rosa, California, to attend Santa Rosa Junior College. He only lasted one semester, but while there, he learned to play the harmonica.

With help from his brother Mike who bought him a plane ticket, Snider relocated to San Marcos, Texas, after leaving SRJC in late fall of 1985. Not long after he arrived in San Marcos, Snider saw Jerry Jeff Walker perform solo at Gruene Hall, a legendary dance hall in New Braunfels, Texas. When he saw Walker that night, he decided he wanted to become a songwriter and began writing songs the next day. He told Lone Star Music Magazine in 2004, “I didn’t even know how to really play guitar yet, but I saw his show and went and got one.”

Snider met Kent Finlay at his very first writer’s night, which was at Finlay’s San Marcos club, Cheatham Street Warehouse. Finlay, who was a songwriter in his own right, became an important mentor and introduced Snider to the songs of Kris KristoffersonGuy ClarkJohn Prine, and Shel Silverstein, among others.

Snider soon was packing small rooms in San Marcos and over the next few years began to draw enthusiastic crowds in Austin, as well.

Snider also discovered Memphis songwriter Keith Sykes while living in San Marcos when a friend at the local record store turned him on to a pair of albums Sykes made in the early ’70s. In 1989, Snider’s father moved to Memphis, and happened to meet Sykes’ sister-in-law. Through that connection, Snider sent Sykes a demo tape of some of his songs. Sykes thought one of the songs had potential, so Snider moved to Memphis to try to work with Sykes.

Not long after he arrived in Memphis, Snider landed a weekly residency at a local club The Daily Planet. He not only was soon packing the room, the audience knew the words to the songs and would sing along.

Through Sykes, Snider met John Prine in 1991 while assisting on pre-production work Prine was doing with Sykes in Memphis for his album The Missing Years. It was the beginning of a friendship that would last until Prine’s death in 2020.

In 1992, Sykes helped Snider land a development deal with Capitol Records. He recorded a number of sides in Nashville for the label, but they declined to pick up his option for a full album.

Around the time of the Capitol deal, Snider began performing with a small band backing him which he dubbed the Bootleggers. The band’s lineup fluctuated some over the first year or so, but by the end of 1994, the lineup was set with Will Kimbrough on guitar, Joe Mariencheck on bass, and Joe McLeary on drums. Snider also had changed the band’s name to the Nervous Wrecks.

Sykes was a one-time member of Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band and Buffett had recorded a few of his songs, so when the Capitol deal fell through, he reached out on Snider’s behalf to Buffett’s label, Margaritaville Records, which was distributed by MCA. Not long after label exec Bob Mercer saw Snider perform at an industry showcase in Memphis in April 1993, Snider flew to California to open a show for Buffett. After seeing his set, Buffett offered Snider a deal with Margaritaville.

Released on October 11, 1994 (Tuesday), the US president was Bill Clinton (Democrat), the UK Prime Minister was Sir John Major (Conservative), Pope St John Paul II was leading the Catholic Church.

In that special week of October people in US were listening to I’ll Make Love To You by Boyz II Men. In UK Saturday Night by Whigfield was in the top 5 hits. The Monster, directed by Roberto Benigni, was one of the most viewed movie released in 1994 while Brothers And Sisters by Bebe Moore Campbell was one of the best selling book. If you liked videogames you were probably playing Beavis and Butt-Head or Dear Boys.


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By Brent Passmore

Wannabe minimalist who strives to do less wrong one day at a time.