Todd Snider's The Devil You Know: A Song of Social Commentary
Todd Snider is an American singer-songwriter known for his witty and humorous lyrics that often touch on political and social issues. One of his most acclaimed songs is The Devil You Know, the title track of his 2006 album of the same name. The song tells the story of a young black man who robs a bank and runs away from the police, ending up at the narrator's house. The narrator, who lives in a poor neighborhood plagued by crime and violence, sympathizes with the robber and helps him escape, while criticizing the system that creates such inequality and injustice.
The song is a powerful example of Snider's storytelling ability and his use of irony and sarcasm to convey his message. The song also features a catchy rock and roll melody that contrasts with the dark and bleak lyrics. The song has been praised by critics and fans alike for its honesty and relevance, especially in the context of the racial tensions and social unrest that have been prevalent in the United States in recent years.
Snider has said that he was inspired by a true story that he read in a newspaper about a bank robbery in Nashville, Tennessee, where he lives. He said that he wanted to write a song that would show the human side of the robber and the narrator, who are both victims of a system that does not care about them. He also said that he wanted to challenge the stereotypes and prejudices that people have about each other based on their race, class, or background.
The Devil You Know is one of Snider's most popular and acclaimed songs, and it has been covered by several artists, including Jason Isbell, Hayes Carll, and Will Hoge. The song showcases Snider's talent as a songwriter and a social commentator, and it remains a relevant and compelling song in today's world.
Snider has also performed The Devil You Know live with various friends and collaborators, such as Vince Herman, Jeff Austin, and Ben Kaufmann. These live versions often feature extended jams and improvisations that add to the energy and spontaneity of the song. Snider has also been known to introduce the song with humorous anecdotes or commentary on current events, making each performance unique and engaging.
Snider has cited Bob Dylan, John Prine, Jerry Jeff Walker, and Chuck Berry as some of his musical influences, and he has also been compared to them by critics and fans. Snider has a distinctive voice that can range from raspy and rough to smooth and melodic, depending on the mood and tone of the song. He also plays guitar, harmonica, and piano, and he often collaborates with other musicians who add different instruments and styles to his sound.
Snider is widely regarded as one of the most original and authentic voices in American music today, and The Devil You Know is one of his finest works. The song showcases his ability to craft memorable melodies, clever lyrics, and compelling stories that reflect his own experiences and observations of the world around him. The song also challenges the listener to think critically about the social and political issues that affect people's lives, and to empathize with those who are marginalized or oppressed by the system. The Devil You Know is a song that resonates with many people, and it is a testament to Snider's talent and vision as a songwriter. aa16f39245