What Todd Snider Really Thinks About Garth Brooks
Anyone who wishes to consider themselves a good storyteller has to at least be an admirer, if not a little envious in some degree of songwriter and performer Todd Snider. Over his career, it can be argued his stories have gone on to bolster his troubadour status just as much as his songs. And anyone who’s seen Todd Snider perform a few times or more knows that Garth Brooks has been a familiar punching bag for Todd over the years.
One of the most famous flash points between Garth Brooks and Todd Snider really has little to do with Garth, and mostly to do with a songwriter named Kent Blazy. Kent was one of the writers behind Garth’s first #1 hit “If Tomorrow Never Comes” and many other Garth songs, including a song that Garth performed as a duet with George Jones called “Beer Run”. As many long-time Todd Snider fans know, Todd has his own version of “Beer Run”, and which version was hatched first became a point of contention between the two camps when the song was released on Garth’s 2001 album Scarecrow.
“I’m sitting at home, watching television and my manager calls me up and says, ‘Hey man, you know that song “Beer Run” you came up with?” Todd Snider recalls. “‘Well there’s a different version of the song that’s almost exactly like it that Garth Brooks is singing with George Jones, and I think you might have got ripped off.’ And as God as my witness, this is what I said [to my manager]: ‘I don’t have to come to fucking town, do I?'”
As Todd Snider tells the story, he didn’t even care about the issue, until… “[My manager] calls me a few months later and it’s a different twist on this story. He says, ‘Now they’re saying you took it from them.’ Now I’m thinking I may even have to dress up.”
Subsequently the two “Beer Run” sides met, and decided amicably that nobody took anything from anybody, and everyone went back about their business …. until Todd Snider was asked to play the induction ceremony for Tom T. Hall at the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2008. During the ceremony, someone pointed out Kent Blazy to Todd in the crowd as the man who wrote Garth’s “If Tomorrow Never Comes,” not knowing it was the same guy who wrote the contested “Beer Run.” So Todd Snider, being a fan of “If Tomorrow Never Comes”, walks over and introduces himself to Kent.
“I know who you are, I got in a lot of trouble last summer with you man.” Todd recalls Kent Blazy saying to him. “You wrote ‘Beer Run’, right? I wrote it too.”
“And I’m thinking in my head, ‘You took it from me!‘” Todd remembers. “So I said to him, ‘You took it from me!‘ And you know what he said to me? He said, ‘Not technically, man.’ And he explained to me the rules about how many words you can take and how many notes you can take, and I thought, ‘That’s some clever shit.’ And as he was walking away from me, I got an idea for a song. It’s called ‘If Tomorrow Never Comes’.”
So this is the story that Todd Snider has told about his revenge song “If Tomorrow Never Comes” for years, and with fuzzy details and different versions, it began to fuel the rumors of a deeper Todd Snider / Garth Brooks feud.
But that’s not the only story involving Todd Snider and Garth Brooks.
Fast forward to present day, and Todd Snider has just released a new book called I Never Met A Story I Didn’t Like. In the book, Snider raises the subject of another story about Garth he tells involving Todd’s famous song “Alright Guy” that Garth wanted to use as part of his notorious Chris Gains project.
“He told me he was making a movie, and he wanted to put my song, ‘Alright Guy,’ in the sound track,” Snider explains in the book. “He told me the story of this character he was playing in the movie, a pop singer called Chris Gaines, and how he’d created an entire history for this character, and he wanted ‘Alright Guy’ to be a song that Chris Gaines sang in the 1970s.”
Now how do you think the idea of a fictitious pop star named Chris Gaines created by Garth Brooks went over with Todd Snider?
If you listen to the story Todd has told at his shows over the years about Garth Brooks, Chris Gaines, and “Alright Guy”, it painted a different picture than how Todd truly felt according to the new book. “…I realized it would be beneficial for me, in my attempt to get laughs at my show, to pretend I knew in real time what a disastrous idea this Chris Gaines thing was. In the story, I played along and told Garth that it was a great, smart idea, knowing that he was going to fall on his ass …. I decided to exploit the idea that not everybody likes Garth Brooks to my own end. And I told myself that Garth wouldn’t be hurt by something like that, because he was so successful.”
But in I Never Met A Story I Didn’t Like, Snider reveals, “That was not in fact anywhere near true. The truth was that I thought it was going to be successful, and thought it was cool, and had hopes that it was going to do well. In fact, I still don’t think it was stupid. I think it was smart of Garth Brooks to make a creative choice that resulted in selling millions of albums. Sign me up for that kind of stupid.”
Todd Snider goes on to talk about his experience hanging out with Garth during the recording of “Alright Guy” for the Chris Gaines project, and how nice Brooks was. “Garth was a lot less music businessoriented toward me and a lot gentler and more poetic toward me than some of my supposedly art-first songwriter friends.” And when the whole Chris Gaines project fizzled and “Alright Guy” went unused, Garth Brooks sent Todd a check for $10,000. “If you’re reading this and thinking, ‘Well, that was the decent thing to do,’ I’m telling you that you’re wrong. I’ve been in this thing for twenty years, and this was ten thousand times more than the decent thing to do. This was unheard of. He owed me nothing but paid me $10,000, and apologized for that.”
As for Todd Snider’s true take on Garth Brooks? It might be the best take on the dichotomy Garth Brooks defines in country music that has been offered to date.
I loved Garth Brooks. I was, and am, a very big fan. I think Garth Brooks fucked up country music for a while, through no fault of his own: he made music so good and so successful that tons of people came along after him trying to imitate what he did. Garth fucked up country music like Kurt Cobain fucked up rock.
Because of Garth’s massive success, there’s a bit of a push and pull in Nashville about him. When you sell more records than anyone has ever sold, you tend to make more people jealous than have ever been jealous of a singer.
It’s a crock that I think prevails in this country: we bully the people who entertain us. We get on the computer and bully them. We buy magazines with pictures of them where they look fat or drunk or imperfect. And we suppose that those people’s success excuses our meanness.
Read the Entire Garth Brooks Excerpt from I Never Met A Story I Didn’t Like
May 11, 2014 @ 10:26 am
You’ve done a great job summarizing this, but the full version in Todd’s book is even better. Highly recommended. He’s back on my good side after I wasted money on that steaming pile East Nashville Tonight video.
May 11, 2014 @ 10:56 am
I encourage everyone to go out and get the book too. This was an exercise in hopefully wetting everyone’s whistle for more Todd Snider stories.
May 12, 2014 @ 9:56 am
I have been thinking about buying that East Nashville Tonight because I really like Snider and Elizabeth Cook. Why did you not like it?
May 12, 2014 @ 11:41 am
Many of the segments with Elizabeth were actually pretty good, but the large majority of it struck me as very poorly planned and unfocused reality TV. Your opinion of it may be different, of course, but my wife hated it as well.
May 12, 2014 @ 12:46 pm
Thank you Dave.
May 12, 2014 @ 1:54 pm
I was at the premier of East Nashville Tonight, I kinda liked it. It’s like a Nashville version of a Cheech and Chong movie. It’s fairly ridiculous with lots of drug humor, I laughed my ass off for certain parts and was perplexed by others. I don’t know that I would buy it but I would certainly watch it again if I was drunk and looking for a laugh
May 11, 2014 @ 10:36 am
Great post here Trig. I never knew about any of this. I’m even feeling inclined to pick up this book. I love the quote about Garth/Kurt Cobain.
May 11, 2014 @ 10:37 am
I can’t say I was ever a Garth Brooks fan. I liked a few of his songs, but I was never sure that what he was doing was really country music. But compared to the a-holes on the radio and on the charts these days, Garth was a good ol’ boy and one of us, and I wasn’t surprised to learn he was a pretty good guy. It wasn’t his fault he became a megastar; the country music business was looking for one and he came around at the right moment.
May 11, 2014 @ 10:54 am
Buy the book!
Or, search out a “semi official” release called “Tales from Moondawg’s Tavern”.
The entire live release is made up of Todd’s stories, not music. This Garth Brooks story is from that release, and is much better (funnier) in audio form.
May 12, 2014 @ 11:26 am
100% Agree, that was the first Todd Snider I was ever turned onto I can’t remember exactly how, but that shit is awesome!! I remember playing it while we were doing a ton of work related driving (I work with my dad) and we were both like ‘this guy is fucking awesome how have we never heard of him before’ and I then began looking into his music….
Also thanks for the heads up on this book this is the first I’ve heard of it, and I feel like I’m (usually) pretty up to date with the goings-ons in this ‘scene,’ but I had not heard a word about him writing a book prior to this article….so thanks SCM for letting me know, and thanks to Todd Snider for writing this! Will have to order a copy!
He should do a book signing tour I bet he’d get way more publicity / press out of that then most authors would (i.e. Sonny Barger)
May 11, 2014 @ 11:02 am
hank Sr. is rolling in his grave..
May 11, 2014 @ 11:39 am
May 11, 2014 @ 8:00 pm
He’s not in the grave.
He has “A Home In Heaven”.
Everybody knows that.
May 11, 2014 @ 11:54 am
Man, it’s a much better world with Todd Snider in it.
May 11, 2014 @ 12:50 pm
Now I want to know what Todd Snider really thinks about Luke Bryan! 😉
May 12, 2014 @ 11:32 am
LOL – I would as well…..he is fucking hilarious even when it’s off-the-cuff / not planned, have any of you all heard his interview that Otis Gibbs did? If not check it out https://soundcloud.com/otisgibbs/episode-34-todd-snider (all of Otis Gibbs’ interviews are awesome btw)
On a side note my phone crapped out so I’ve been forced into using the AM/FM radio – unfortunately I heard a bit of the Bobby Bones or whatever the fuck his name is….it is worse than awful, and I can’t believe that’s the best idea that the giant corporate radio company could come up with (you know a ton of money was spent just planning it out)….
How awesome would it be if Todd Snider was the DJ instead? A funny character with real life, intimate knowledge of Nashville as well as country music?? Oh noooooooo…that would make far too much sense lol
May 11, 2014 @ 3:29 pm
Fascinating. Kent Blazy sounds like an asshole.
While I don’t know what if any bearing it might have had on Gary Allan cutting it later, I am quite glad that “Alright Guy” didn’t work out for the CG project.
May 11, 2014 @ 6:53 pm
On an average Garth album, Scarecrow for example, I think it would’ve worked…but for him to even consider putting it on his ‘concept album’ it probably would’ve been a big laughing stock on that album (and I know many of you think that album as a whole was a joke but I’m going on record as having supported it.) To Garth’s credit I think even he realized it and left that song out of there.
Speaking of Gary Allan, I think that song was a perfect fit for him mostly because I always viewed this song as an Outlaw song and think Gary as such.
Now to put my random opinion in, I always thought that “Friends in Low Places” and Jack Ingram’s “Barbie Doll” (which Snider co-wrote) are a lot alike and I always play them side-by-side with each other.
May 11, 2014 @ 7:45 pm
Here’s the reason (from Todd’s book) that Garth didn’t include the song:
“And then Garth”™s mother got sick, and Garth made a decision that he was not going to do anything to even remotely challenge his mother, whom he loved very much. One thing that his mother was uncomfortable with was a line in “Alright Guy” about smoking dope. So Garth called me, told me “Alright Guy” wasn”™t going to be on the record, and told me why.”
May 11, 2014 @ 3:51 pm
Great songwriter /musican tales, thanks!
May 11, 2014 @ 6:21 pm
Great article. I’ve never heard of Todd Snider before, but I will be seeking out his work after reading this. I actually like Garth Brooks’ music; he made a huge splash, popularly and commercially. He’s not the world’s greatest singer and admits as much, but he has cut some good songs. More power to him. And his cutting a cheque for Snider says a lot as well; in an industry where people are out for all they can get, it’s nice to hear a major star is actually has some scruples. Good on ya, Garth.
I agree with the pistolero; Kent Blazy sounds like a piece of work. To take someone else’s work, just enough so that you don’t get called on it, rework it somewhat, and then call it your own is just not cool. I know one thing – I never loved “Beer Run” to begin with, but hearing this, I’ll be switching the song when it comes on, not because I don’t like Garth’s music, because I do, but because of Blazy’s shady behaviour in “crafting” the song, if you can call it that. It’s sort of upsetting to hear that one’s intellectual property can so easily be taken and reclaimed by others. Sad, really.
June 28, 2017 @ 3:51 pm
Hey, Canuck. I came across your post and wanted to clear this up.
I am one of the writers on the Garth version of Beer Run, and know what happened here.
After seeing this story about Kent, I realized it was time to get to the bottom of things, and now that I have, and have emailed with Todd Snider about it, I can clear it up publicly here [violating all kinds of “don’t comment yourself” industry rules, I know.]
I’m the daughter of Kim Williams and grew up loving Garth and trying to please and impress my dad. Even as a little girl I would scour the novels I read looking for one liners Dad could weave into songwriting hooks. When I got older, I noticed he especially liked to ask me about new slang, party jokes, and stuff the younger crowd was doing.
So one night at a party on Belmont, I heard this guy holler out that he was going on a “B double e double r u n” from the kitchen, and everyone laughed. I loved it and thought it was a clever saying. These friends were all the time doing hilarious “yo mama” jokes, and I thought this was another thing like that.
I told Dad about the saying, and he was excited to write the hook with his friends Keith Anderson and George Ducas. I was a little pissed they didn’t actually ask me to write the song with them, but whatever, I was off at school. Dad told me that he put my name on the song, and I told him not to worry about it, but he did it anyway.
They pitched the song to Garth, and according to Dad, Garth liked it, but wanted it to be more like a George Jones duet – so he had Dad rewrite it with Kent Blazy.
When I found this story by researching a while back, I didn’t realize there had been all this fuss over the song. All I knew was that I had been accused of stealing Todd Snider’s version since the early 2000s, and felt completely horrible about the whole thing. After all the guy shouting Beer Run at that party had probably heard Todd’s song and was trying to sing it. If I had known it was already a song, or if any of us had known that, the Garth version would have never been written.
I was mortified reading Todd’s story about how Kent treated him, and thought it was that Kent thought I was guilty and was trying to protect me.
But after I reached out to Todd and told him everything, he got back with me and confessed that he had made up the story about Kent. Then I reached out to Kent, and told him about everything, and in his sweet Kent Blazy voice (I mean the man is truly a saint in so many ways, you wouldn’t believe how kind he is) he said, “I haven’t even ever MET Todd Snider.” And just laughed.
The bad thing is this – I think people thinking of Kent in this untrue way causes a shadow that doesn’t belong on him. He is the only one of his peers who has not been inducted into the Nashville Songwriter Hall of Fame, and I know it would mean so much to him, AND HE DESERVES IT SO MUCH.
I am writing this here today because this is June 28th, and if my dad Kim Williams had lived, he would have been 70 years old today. He wanted to help his friend Kent Blazy assume his rightful place in the Songwriters Hall of Fame next to his brothers.
Please – do ask Todd about this when you see him, and confirm for yourself the truth. Todd seems like a really great guy, and I can’t wait to meet him in person one of these days. This thing was God awful on so many levels, but I’m hoping that by pressing on through this fire and conflict that we can come to harmony and understanding on the other side. Love & Light – Amanda Colleen Williams
May 12, 2014 @ 8:56 am
Nice article, I’m a fan of both Beer Runs, and I think Snider has a good take on it.
I get annoyed when I see people complain about how “Garth Brooks stole the song” when Garth Brooks wasn’t the song writer, so if you want to play that game George Jones is just as responsible. (The same thing I hear is when liberals attack Toby Keith for saying we should hang all the bad guys in a tall oak tree, but ignore that Willie Nelson is the one actually singing it.) It was just nine syllables, but it was the hook of both songs, and it seems like the label should have been willing to throw Snider a few bucks even if they were not legally obligated to.
I think a lot of people in Snider’s position (i.e. a semi-popular alt country singer getting semi-plaigarized by the biggest country singer at the time) would get on their high horse.
Speaking of Beer Run, I think Robert Earl Keen did that with Bullets in the Gun/Road goes on Forever. The extent of the similarity is that you have a Bonnie and Clyde situation and the Bonnie gets the money and the Clyde gets screwed. I don’t think that started with Road Goes on Forever, and the only plaigarized lines were “The cards are on the table,” which is a pretty common idiom, before Road Goes on Forever.
Anyway, I’m sure the songwriters were thinking about The Road Goes on Forever when they wrote Bullets in the Gun, but I don’t see it as “rip off” certainly much less than Beer Run.
That said, I still think Jack in the Box is a great song and REK is probably my favorite singer in the last 30 years, so I won’t complain.
To me, the problem
At the end of the day, it is just 10 syllables, though admittedly the hook of both songs, and I could see.
May 12, 2014 @ 12:49 pm
Kurt Cobain did NOT “fuck up rock” …. he helped breathe new life into it.
Go back and have a REAL look at what was happening all over the world in music just mere days before you even knew he existed.
May 12, 2014 @ 1:26 pm
I think that is what Todd Snider was trying to say. He just said it in a different way.
May 14, 2014 @ 2:41 pm
I think what Snider was saying is that Cobain/Nirvana’s popularity led to a slew of low quality imitators for the rest of the 90’s. He’s not attacking Nirvana’s music, just implying that it’s popularity had some negative consequences for the genre.
July 11, 2014 @ 6:58 pm
On my way to the beach for a weeks vacation, Todd’s book packed in my beach bag, I went on Facebook on my cell while my husband was driving and saw, very much to my amusement, that several of my friends had sent me the link to the story of Luke Bryan falling off the stage the night before in the city from which I had just departed. I tweeted the link as fast as I could to both Trigger and Farce the Music. By the time I tweeted, FTM was already begging folks to STOP sending them the link… enough already! So, I apologized. A little later, Trigger posted his opinion on both the actual circumstance and that he found no humor in a situation where someone was physically hurt. And I was so ashamed. And then I read Todd’s book. And, as God as my witness, when I got to that last excerpt posted at the end of the above post, sitting on the beach on a beautiful spring day, my shame grew even more. I thought again about what Trigger had said. I re-read those few paragraphs that Todd had written about being mean. I am one of many huge Todd Snider fans. His book made him even more of a hero to me. I have never read anything more real about or by anybody more real, and I laughed out loud SO MANY times and sometimes I would sit in stunned silence, so happy to know for sure that Todd is living the life he chooses. Except for the back problems that his asshole dad helped cause. BUY THIS BOOK!
January 13, 2017 @ 7:09 pm
Hrm…. I remember hearing the Flametrick Subs play “Be-double E double R UN-beer run! Be-double E double R UN-beer run!” in the middle of their song “Plastic Jesus” during their concerts that I attended circa 1997 or so in Austin, TX.
You can check out this video from their 1998 recording Undead at the Black Cat Lounge and hear them singing it around 4:40 in the video.