Songs and Their Stories

Andy Sneed would love to sing you one of his songs.  He would also love to tell you the story behind that song.  Because just like each one of us, every song has a unique story.  Just hang on a second while he gets his guitar.  While you're waiting, feel free to look around the place: hit the music player at the bottom of the page for some tunes, read some lyrics on the Words page, check out his Bio, find out about upcoming Shows, and more!

The Latest

You Say You Want a Resolution 

I went to the gym this sub-freezing morning, did some fast walking on the treadmill and some weights. Last night I ordered the salmon instead of the cheeseburger that was beckoning. My cholesterol was a little high at this year's checkup and I really don't want to take a pill for it, so I've made these New Year's resolutions - as we often do - to exercise more and eat better. Over the holidays I had some time to reflect on life a bit, and I realized I'd been kind of neglecting my music. Maybe it was some depression at first, but then I just got out of the habit. I was picking up my guitar only occasionally and, as a result, wasn't really working on any new songs. So in addition to those usual resolutions, this year I've also made some MUSICAL RESOLUTIONS:

  1. To pick up my guitar every day, both to practice my usual material and also to develop new skills - and hell, just for the pure joy of playing;
  2. To open myself to new musical and lyrical ideas, grab them when they come along and work on them;
  3. To explore new music and new artists to add to my own musical stew;
  4. To get back to some songwriter events this year like the Richard Leigh Songwriters Festival in Abingdon, VA, and the Smoky Mountain Songwriters Festival in Gatlinburg; and
  5. To schedule shows in some new places and venues - so let me know if there's a cool coffee house, brewery, or club near you that I should contact!

The truth is, music is a discipline and a habit, as much as getting regular exercise and eating right. If I get out of the habit, my musical muscles atrophy. By the same token, if I cultivate habits of giving myself to music, I'll be there ready when the joy and the new, unexpected ideas come. 

"Thankfuls" from the NC Shows 

My wife, Susan, has this exercise she does most mornings in which she writes down "thankfuls" - things she's thankful for, whether really simple or more significant - as a way of both clearing and refocusing her mind.  I've experienced a lot of thankfuls in the last month at the shows in Sylva and Marshall, NC, so I thought I'd share some of them with you.
In Sylva...
- thankful for City Lights Cafe and the way they serve their community
- thankful for the kids' toys strewn around the stage
- thankful that I was in a good head-space that evening
- thankful for the good tone I had from my amp
- thankful that I got to play my newest song - always a good feeling
- thankful for the folks at the show who had just moved from Alaska, and getting to play "Northern Lights" for them
- thankful for the little note they left for me, pictured here, recommending a song to me (I listened to it - it's good!)
- thankful for the spectacular view across the mountains on the drive over and back
In Marshall...
- thankful for our host, Emily, at the place where we stayed in Asheville, and her amazing homemade cookies
- thankful for the drive over to Marshall, which is this awesome little well-off-the-beaten-path railroad-and-river town
- thankful for the atmosphere of Good Stuff, which is housed in this old former appliance warehouse
- thankful for the way Good Stuff reminded me of the stock rooms of the sporting goods store where I worked as a teenager in Oxford
- thankful for the excellent burgers we had there
- thankful for the easy-to-use and good-sounding, crusty ancient PA system, marked with these really helpful labels for "House" and "Monitor"
- thankful for the excellent acoustics of the all-wood converted space
- thankful for Leonard, who stuck around and talked a bit after the show
- and mostly thankful that, when I played "Good Things Are Gonna Happen for You" and reached the chorus and the words "I don't know how I know it but I do/ For me it is a hard-wired truth" I realized that was the one most needed to hear that song just then, having been overly anxious lately and somehow lost sight of the experience of positivity that is elemental for me.

A Moment of Clarity in Johnson City 

I played at the Acoustic Coffeehouse in Johnson City this past weekend and received some unexpected gifts. It's a laid-back club, the kind of place where there seem to be a lot of regulars – people greeting each other, giving high-fives and hugs, or shaking hands. 
First, when I arrived, there were a couple of guys up front playing impromptu, one with an acoustic guitar and the other with a vintage Oahu electric slide guitar. They were jamming on some classic tunes like Neil Young's "Like a Hurricane" and Dylan's "Knockin' on Heavens Door." So, instead of standing around getting nervous about things that could possibly go wrong, I just got a beer, sat down and worked on my set list while listening to that soulful, singing slide guitar. It really helped put me in the mood to play, and it was completely unexpected. 

The second gift came while I was playing, kind of late in the set. When I'm playing, a lot of thoughts go through my head. "What chord am I playing?... Am I going to mess up the solo?... Am I singing the right words?... What are those people talking about?"  And all of a sudden this thought hit me, that "I am so fortunate to be in this place right now, playing this song for these people, and this is just good." it was a moment of real clarity that snapped me back to the present and somehow altered my whole perspective.

Feeling thankful and looking forward to the next show!

Athens Show, 1/13/17 

Had a great time Friday in Athens.  We reconnected with friends from Chattanooga whom we hadn't seen in too long, and discovered a welcoming venue and very kind music fans at the Beanery Uncorked.  I appreciate the response to my tunes and the opportunity to play there, and would love to come back!  Here are some shots from the evening.

Songs and the Stories Behind Them 

In my live performances, I have started doing a lot more storytelling. Folks seem to enjoy it. And while I do believe the songs stand on their own, it also seems that some narrative background enhances the experience of hearing them. I know telling the stories behind the songs at least enhances my experience of playing them. Frankly, it also has the practical benefit of calming me me down a bit between songs and focusing me for the next song - so I don't play it too fast, for example.  

In my songwriting, I tend to go for more particular images and references over more general ones, because I think life is experienced in the particular rather than in general. One of my songs about a long-distance relationship makes reference to Knoxville and Pittsburgh. Someone recommended that I change it to "the South" and "the North," and that just felt all wrong to me because people in relationships live in particular places, not just somewhere down South or up North. But I suspect that in a live performance, all these very particular images and references can get a bit overwhelming; so the storytelling helps to give a little context.

This is something that's been cooking for a while.  But it really started to gel this past spring when I attended a several-day retreat with David Wilcox.  David is masterful at weaving stories and songs together, and it struck me that it added this whole other dimension to the performance.  Todd Snider also does this in his solo performances.  Last time I played at the Open Chord's Songwriter Night, on Oct. 4, I had such a good time sharing my songs and their stories that I decided to expand the storytelling in my full-length shows.  I used this format in Friday's (Nov. 18) Vienna Coffee House gig, and it felt right and (I think) went over well.  I'm excited about doing more of this in upcoming shows, so get in touch if you'd like to book something!

My Favorite Season 

I love fall, probably more than any other season.  The beautiful, clear skies.  The crisp air and colorful leaves.  Cool mornings and evenings on the front porch.  I was fortunate to get to play under this gorgeous sunset a couple of days ago at Out of Eden in Maryville for Legal Aid of East TN's fall fundraiser.  It was a perfect evening for a really worthwhile event, and a great way to kick off the season.  I'm looking forward to more fall shows, such as a set at Athens, TN's Pumpkintown Festival - my first appearance at that event.  I'm working on scheduling some others, so stay tuned!

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See Andy Live

Andy Sneed Live at City Lights Cafe

City Lights Cafe, 3 East Jackson Street, Sylva, NC 28779

Andy is really looking forward to sharing his songs and stories again in this amazing community gathering space. Incredible food, regional craft beers, an intimate stage, and a bookstore upstairs (complete with cats). WNC folks, come on out!

Andy Sneed Live at the Daily Grind & Wine

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The Daily Grind & Wine, 46 Valley River Ave., Murphy, NC

Andy will be coming to western NC again, bringing his original songs to the Daily Grind & Wine in historic downtown Murphy. Looks like a happening place, with all kinds of coffee, wine AND regional craft beers.