John Craigie’s Todd Snider song comes full circle
John Craigie felt mortified the morning after he considered stealing a jar of marijuana from fellow singer/songwriter Todd Snider backstage at the Catalyst two years ago. He confessed the whole ordeal to a friend, who laughed hysterically at the incident and convinced Craigie, a UCSC grad, to write a song about it.
And thus began Craigie’s rambling, self-deprecating folk tune about a theft that never was—the non-victim a man Craigie had long idolized.
“I was self conscious to sing it. As I sang it more, I realized how funny it was,” remembers Craigie, who tours almost year-round, often crashing on couches of fans.
Concert footage of the song got passed around via YouTube. Snider, long-established in the national Americana music scene, eventually heard it, and loved it. The saga came full circle, though, when Craigie performed at the High Sierra Festival this past July, and looking out over the crowd, spotted Snider right in the thick of it. Craigie looked down at his set list. “I Almost Stole Some Weed From Todd Snider” was next.
Craigie avoided eye contact with Snider for the entire song, and as he wrapped up the song a few minutes later, he noticed Snider was gone. When he struck his last chord, Craigie heard someone on the edge of the stage talking to the sound guy. And then he saw Snider walking straight toward him. When Craigie extended his hand for a handshake, Snider held out a jar of Mary Jane. After that, Craigie’s memory gets blurry.
“When this happened, it was almost like serration overload,” Craigie says. “Everyone was cheering. I just peaked. I was able to step out of the moment and realize how perfect it was. Sometimes life will do something so good, everyone will think it’s scripted.”
Of course, many of Craigie’s songs are about love, loss, and life on the road, too, not just silly stories. But apparently, if you want to reach someone more famous than you, writing a song for the person might be a good way to do it. Craigie says Burning Man creator Larry Harvey has heard “Let’s Talk This Over When We’re Sober, and We’re Not at Burning Man,” another one of his own cult hits.
Similarly, Chuck Norris is a big fan of the young troubadour’s “Chuck Norris’ Tears Cure Cancer, Too Bad He Never Cries,” and Craigie has the autographed headshot of the former Walker, Texas Ranger star to prove it.
“These are things I’ve learned in the business,” Craigie says. “If you write a song specific enough, the way the Internet is, it will get to them.”
John Craigie plays Kuumbwa at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 21. Tickets are $21-$32. PHOTO: Todd Snider (left) surprises John Craigie on-stage with a gift. TIM PARSONS TAHOE ONSTAGE