This is a great record, especially the songs "Just in Case" (decidedly not a sensitive love song), 'Happy to be Here" and especially "D.B. Cooper". The use of a horn section in the arrangements of some of the songs is quite clever and makes me chuckle -- something that I look for in a Todd Snider recording. He continues to be one of our best troubadours in the Woody Guthrie sense of the term. Well worth getting.
I've lived with Todd's fourth album for two years now, and it has just been supplanted by his newest, so I think it's time to evaluate "Happy to be Here." Actually, it is darn good. Those of us who fell in love with his debut, "Songs for the Daily Planet" will never be satisfied until he matches that achievement, which might be never. Those of us who liked his band, "The Nervous Wrecks" had a problem with their absence on "Happy." Those of us who liked his folk-tinged rock 'n roll voice had a bit of disappointment hearing the twang he affected for "Happy to be Here." It became a disc that you had to listen to a few times before its excellence became clear. But it is excellent, and it does reward repeated listening. My favorites are "D.B. Cooper" and the title track, and "Long Year" and "Just in Case." Todd still hasn't presented his fullest musical self to the public, on disc or in concert. I suspect he will have to be over 40 before he creates a body of songs as good as "Daily Planet" again. He will most likely miss out on rock/country stardom, but he certainly has the Guy Clark/Billy Joe Shaver kind of talent that can keep him working steady for the rest of his life. If you like any of his other four collections, don't be afraid to buy this one...just listen to it carefully a couple of times and you'll be satisfied.
"Happy to Be Here," is another strong collection of tunes from singer-songwriter Todd Snider. Snider firmly straddles the line between rock and country, though he seems to be moving more in the latter direction as his career progresses. He's also toned down his smart aleky sense of humor a bit, though that's not necessarily a good thing. Snider's sound and style varies from song to song on this album. Typically for Snider, his political/topical songs ("Betty was Black," the title track) tend to be the weakest. He's at his best when his observations are more personal, like on the ballads "Lonely Girl," and "Missing You," and the peppier numbers "Keep off the Grass" and "What's Wrong With You." At its best Snider's music at often recalls a young John Prine. Overall, a solid album from an excellent singer-songwriter.
I was prompted to purchase this album after hearing Todd Snider sing "D. B. Cooper", which is an excellent piece of music. He is both entertaining, as well as intelligent, leaving the listener wonndering "what if ...", as the true life D. B. Copper case was never actually closed. He shows some bitter sarcasm in "Happy to Be Here", which has more of a country twang to it than most of his music, which crosses over through country, Pop, rock, even Alternative. We have the album, but it is not one of my favorites of his, although I would hate to not have it at all. I would suggest listening to a few clips, if your computer allows, or asking a local radio station to play some of the songs before buying this one. "D. B. Cooper" might be worth the whole thing (grin). You might also want to run a search for his name online through a Search Engine, just to see how mcuh he has contributed to music in general (although he is not always listed on any online site as often as he is in various artists' liner notes) and get the feel for his style. Just my opinion.
I can't describe how disappointed I was when I found out that Todd Snider broke up the Nervous Wrecks. Easily the best live show I have ever seen, it was an irreparable loss to anybody who had seen them. However, Snider went back into the studio to record "Happy to Be Here". And, on this album, he really comes into his own. And he finally starts making good on the promise that can be heard on "Songs From the Daily Planet". With the decision to record just Todd and his guitar first, then add instrumentation later, the arrangements are the best I've heard on any of his albums. The Dixieland tinged "Ballad of the Devil's Backbone Tavern", the bluesy "Forty Five Miles", the stripped-down, deadpan humor of "Just In Case", and the rollicking fun of "Keep Off the Grass" are all tributes to Snider's flexibility. Unlike some of his earlier albums, Snider sounds like he is having fun here. Trying to pick out a favorite song is almost impossible, as almost every song is an absolute gem. If you want to know what is worth listening to, check the song list. It's all worth it. This album is a good place to begin any Todd Snider collection. The only other album I can recommend for that distinction might be "Songs From the Daily Planet".
In a word, yes. Snider's got Prine's awry and wry sense of humor (including and maybe even especially at himself), his tenderness, even a similar voice. My thought is the world could use a lot more of all three. I take Happy to Be Here at face value; considering the alternative, it is great -- even on the bad days -- to be here at all. Long Year deservedly hammers the 12 step crowd, although Snider maybe did pick up enough from them to stop get totally hammered himself. And look, I'm a pillar of the establishment, but the outlaw corner of my heart also fervently hopes D.B. Cooper (who would now be what? almost 70?) is somewhere drinking champagne. Three great love songs Lonely Girl, All of My Life and Missing You show what the folks satirized in Just in Case will never know they're missing. This is fun listening and good playing throughout.
Snider was dropped from his major label contract after his previous disc "Viva Satellite" in 1998. He signed with John Prine's Oh Boy label for this one and it really was the perfect place for Snider. Snider had opened for Prine many times in the past and there are certainly a lot of similarities to their songwriting. This album leans a lot closer to the country direction than his previous two discs, it is also largely acoustic in nature, with a few rockers (still with acoustic guitar out front) thrown in as well. Snider seems to be getting back to his roots with this release after the more commercial rock direction of his previous effort. For the most part it works and this is another nice album from Mr. Snider.
I'll admit I came into my listening and buying of Todd Snider CDs thinking he was just witty with some "funny" songs. I was absolutely right about the witty and funny part, but I soon realized there was insight and great songwriting in even the most humorous of his songs. And, of course, they're not all humorous. This CD has turned out to be my favorite by Snider. For me, "Backbone Tavern", "Keep Off the Grass" and "Just in Case" are about as good as it gets. The music is diverse and always quality. When you begin to love the songs as much as I have, get his latest live CD and learn the stories behind the stories! They're great!
Taking advice or a recommendation can be like eating health food...you know it's good for you but will you like the tast? I bought this CD and thought it was worth the risk. Boy, what a great CD it turned out to be. Snider is a great storyteller and let's put it this way: he sounded like a cross between Bob Dylan and Arlo Guthrie. Be forgiving about his voice because he does have something to sing about. "All of My Life" is a great love song and playing it for my wife got me out of the dog house for a few hours. Feeling I was on safe ground, I let her listen to "Just in Case" and got that look questioning my sense and brining up the subject or prenuptial agreements. Snider's music was great to work out to and even better to drink beer by. It's country, it's western, it's blues and it's even a little rock. Snider made a great CD here and my wife and I are making plans to see him on stage when he rolls through Virginia in a couple months. No one heard of Jimmy Buffett in the late 70s and early 80s and perhaps Todd Snider will follow the same road to fame. Better see him now before we have to deal with Ticketmaster to see him live.