Now to fit in on the Seattle scene
You’ve gotta do somethin’ they ain’t never seen
So thinkin’ up a gimmick one day
We decided to be the only band that wouldn’t play a note
Under any circumstances
Silence: music’s original alternative
I’d mentioned Todd in a comment to my little bit about Ani DiFranco. The above clip is a hidden track found on his first album Songs for a Daily Planet. It was one of those “driveway moments” that turned me onto Todd. I was driving home from the café I managed, pulled up in front of the parent’s house (where I was staying after my divorce until I could get my shit together) and was about to turn off the car when this started playing on the radio. To be honest, I’m not sure how the DJ even knew about it — it certainly wasn’t on their normal rotation.
It instantly reminded me of Alice’s Restaurant Thanksgiving Day Massacree, so I settled in to give it a gander — honestly, I was expecting to turn it off after a few bars and move on with my day.
Now, you have to remember, I had just moved back to the Twin Cities from Seattle (land of grunge during the time of grunge, where non-grunge folk like me stood out).
I’ll be honest, I like grunge now, but I thought it was self-pretentious twiddle-twaddle at the time. Similar to how I felt about the second generation of campy goth that took itself too seriously (I’m sorry, bashing Christianity is nothing more than attempting to shock and offend and isn’t very goth, in my mind), I felt grunge was taking garage band punk and taking itself to seriously. Too plastic and over-produced… I lived in Seattle in the middle years of the grunge movement (starting about 6 months before Kurt committed suicide and I vividly recall the OJ chase on the pub TV while it happened live), so the impact was everywhere I went and, like most popular fashions, it was overhyped and overdone during it’s heyday.
So, with my snarly attitude towards grunge, hearing some guy wax Guthrie style “We’ve got bad attitudes/And what’s more/When we play/We stare straight down at the floor/Wowee/Pretty scary/How pensive/How totally alternative”, I was enthralled.
Todd is more about wry humor and story-telling than it is about trying to impress anyone. My sense of humor tends to lean towards self-deprecation and understatement and, when I hear it in song, chances are I’ll like the song as long as it isn’t overdone. Todd influenced my own approach towards music and lyrics (again, I never got to explore these influences outside of the living room) by the storytelling and the the way humor could be injected into song without becoming a slapstick affair.
I’ve always liked cutting past the chaff and holding a mirror up to the world so it can see just how silly we can be. Todd does that a lot in his music and stories (most of his concerts about about equal parts music and song introduction).