Book Review: Summertime Peruse

All too true tales of the music business

Summertime Peruse

Da Capo Press, 304 pp., $16.99 (paper)

Given his propensity for winding yarns between songs, it's a wonder Todd Snider didn't write a book sooner. The shaggy stoner inheritor of Arlo Guthrie and Jerry Jeff Walker infuses this quasi-memoir with the relatable cadence of a pint-sodden pub ramble. Fans will undoubtedly recognize many of these stories from Snider's concerts. Have you ever sent Jimmy Buffett into a fruit-throwing rage? Snider did and lived to tell it all. One of the many drug stupors recounted here culminates in Snider's uncomfortably close-up encounter with his mentor Walker's balls. Then there's the one about hapless Texpatriate frat boys stumbling into an overly genteel Robert Earl Keen show in California and unwittingly inspiring "Beer Run." Amid zany highlights, the true glue of Mostly True Tall Tales lies in Snider's stock-taking. His career reflections present a much more nuanced account of the music industry machine than standard-issue tropes about getting screwed over. He owns up to moments of youthful dumbassery that debased him while sussing out the points at which being selfish and uncompromising was an asset. While his body of work may not inspire the hushed reverence afforded his graybeard idols, Snider demonstrates unflinching clarity in assessing his music and its relationship to the audience.

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