Merlin Snider

Merlin Snider


Merlin Snider is "about as fine a a songwriter and story teller as you're likely to find" wrote "Wildy's World". With a fresh stew of Folk-Blues & Alt-Country, he's been compared to Woody Guthrie, Neil Young, and Steve Goodman. "The genuine article when it comes to wit and humor," says Bob Stane.


Merlin Snider is a singer, songwriter, and acoustic guitar player in the Americana story-telling tradition. His music is an eclectic mix of folk-blues, western swing, alternative country and folk-rock.

Snider's newly released second album, "Right Here," is among the Top Folk Albums for 2009, as reported on, the official site of FOLKDJ-L.

Folkworks,org offered this praise of "Right Here": "[Merlin] has assembled an outstanding group of musicians, authored a tremendous collection of songs, engineered an ultimately pleasurable listening experience and produced an album that will be a "must-have" for connoisseurs of the singer-songwriter, folk genre."

The Pasadena Weekly reported that Snider's debut album, "Between," "notable for its skillful guitar work and beautifully spare production has garnered both critical acclaim and radio airplay across the United States and Europe."

John McLaughlin from ESU Radio in PA said, “The writing is acute, the playing is sharp. [Between] is high quality across the board.”

David Weide, KUNV, Las Vegas, named Snider’s song, “Hello Jesus” among favorites of 2000.

Born in Joliet, Illinois, in 1953, the youngest of five sons, Merlin moved from the Midwest to Southern California with his family at an early age. His father, Allan G. Snider, was a Pentecostal preacher, a Ph.D. in sociology, and a homebuilder in his spare time. Merlin’s mother, Rhoda M. Snider, was an accomplished musician, skilled on piano, organ, and piano accordion. She led the church orchestra and choir and was intent on getting the hands of all five of her sons wrapped around one musical instrument or another at any early age.

Merlin started on the piano, repeatedly abandoning it for a basketball or football, then picked up the trumpet, and then in high school dropped that and all else for the acoustic guitar and harmonica. He began writing songs as soon as he knew three chords.

Snider’s early music was rooted in the church. Later it grew into the world beyond, venturing into broader themes both earthy and universally spiritual.

While continuing to write, perform, and record demos, Merlin raised three children with his wife Deborah, earning money as a painter, carpenter, cabinet maker, teacher, and free lance journalist.

Along the way he earned a BA in Religious Studies from Vanguard University, Costa Mesa, California; an MA in theology from Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California; and a Ph.D. in Social Ethics from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, (1988). His dissertation was titled, Morals and Irreligion: Kurt Vonnegut as Social Ethicist.

All this education reflected the artist’s interest in values in society and, Snider stubbornly believes, has made him a better songwriter. In the middle of it all Merlin wrote his talking blues, “Learn, Learn, Learn,” a satiric take on higher education that won honorable mention in the American Songwriting Festival.

The release of Merlin’s 1999 debut album, Between, uncorked on the wider world Snider’s singular writing style, including distinctive melodies and chord arrangements, wry and evocative story-telling, and what the Ventura County Star called “a good amount of wicked humor.”

Folk Roots magazine wrote, “In a world filled with vanity releases of the solo, self-financed variety, it’s a relief to stumble across a songwriter that is a little contrary to ordinary,” and noted songs that provide “evidence of a thoughtful mind at work.”

Now, after an interim of nine years, Merlin’s second album has just been released.

Says Stephen Jay, Peabody award-winning composer and long time bassist for Weird Al Yankovic, "Right Here" has "Amazing arrangements, I love it. The record bleeds love. The cover reflects a simple and deep sensibility that serves the album well. A great album and a beautiful gift from you to the world."

Merlin resides in Ventura County, California with his wife Deborah Snider in one of the houses they built while he was avoiding the recording studio.

When not appearing solo, Merlin performs in various configurations of his band of Pretty Good Acquaintances:
Tom Corbett, mandolin (John McEuen's String Wizards, Robin and Linda Williams, Acousticats, Tom Corbett Band)
Mark Indictor, fiddle (Border Radio, Hot Lips and Fingertips, Dallas Hodge, Teresa Russell & Acadiana)
Larry Zack, drums (Jackson Browne, Joan Armatrading, Bonnie Raitt, Warren Zevon, Hot Lips and Fingertips)
Jack Joshua, upright bass (Mary Murphy, The Tatters, Rincon Ramblers, Cyrus Clarke)
Deborah Snider, backup vocals (Girls Night Out)


Yellow Moon

Written By: Merlin Snider

Yellow moon, yellow moon
with your face shining bright
Yellow moon would you loan
a little bit of your borrowed light
'Cause I went to the sun
and the sun would not help
He would not reveal
what any child could tell--
that the Emperor is naked,
the Senate blind and dumb
What kind of storm is coming
Yellow moon?

Yellow moon turning red
from the wells that we have bled
Night is light, day is black
from the vengeful first attack
Desert sand stirred up high,
Desert sand spreading wide,
until the purple mountains
and the fruited plains it finds
Tell me how yellow moon,
tell me where if you can
On whose front lawn will it land
Yellow moon?

Yellow moon old and wise
Look into these salted eyes
A million years, a drop of time
Who will ask, what will they find?
Will it be our sons and daughters
Or the seed of worms and flies?
What upstart descendants
from the ocean will arise?
Will they find a fossil record
color of money, color of oil?
What answers will you tell,
Yellow moon?

Yellow moon
Yellow moon

Molly's Got Her Red Dress On

Written By: Merlin Snider

There's danger on Magnolia, you can feel it in the air
Molly's got her red dress on
Her man has been gone fishin’ in other people's ponds
Now Molly's got her red dress on
She's done feeling sorry and alone
He's not the only dog in town with the only bone
She's picking out her beaus. They're reaping what she's sewn.
Molly's got her red dress on

Her legs are smooth and silky; there's fresh paint on her toes
Molly's got her red dress on
She's flying like a flag now, up in the breeze she goes
Molly's got her red dress on
She's ninety percent gentle, sweet and kind
The other half gets what she wants when she sets her mind
She's made her alterations, she’s showing her designs
Molly's got her red dress on

She's finished her prescription of bitter little pills
She know what she needs now she's dressed to steal
Look out boys, you know the rules, best you watch the family jewels
Molly's got her red dress on

It's springtime on Magnolia, folks are shedding clothes
Molly's got her red dress on
The passing of dark winter has left her bloom exposed
Molly's got her red dress on
Now underneath that hypnotic proper hem
There lies a fatal Crème de la femme
She's skirted her demise, now be advised
Molly's got her red dress on.
Molly's got her red
Molly's got her red
Molly's got her red dress on

Mama Don't Work Here

Written By: Merlin Snider

Pick up your socks and underwear
Throw out the moldy Tupperware
Mama don’t work here anymore
Scrub the toilet, scour the sink
Gives you time to stop and think
Mama don’t work here anymore

Somewhere on the edges of the United States
She’s making her own way
Peuget’s Sound, Myrtle Beach
Anywhere outside your reach
Mama don’t work here anymore

Stare at the table, drawing doodles
Microwave a Cup ‘o Noodles
Mama don’t cook here anymore
Off the couch for another beer
Figure it out some other year
Mama don’t wait here anymore

She’s working her tail off just as hard somewhere else
But she’s saving it for someone who cares
Florida Keys, Gloucester, Mass.
Tired & broke but free at last
Mama don’t work here anymore

Mama don’t work
Mama don’t work
Mama don’t work here anymore

Kick the dog, kick the cat
Kick yourself, she ain’t coming back
Mama don’t take it anymore
Well, “damn that woman, the poor excuse”
But she ain’t here for your abuse
Mama don’t hear it anymore

She’s sleeping alone, but her bed feels like home
The tears she cries are her own
San Diego, Virginia Beach,
Watch her grow outside your reach
Mama ain’t lonely here no more

Mama don’t work
Mama don’t work
Mama don’t work here anymore

Mama don’t work
She don’t cry
Mama don’t take it
Don’t act surprised
Mama don’t work here anymore

Drink of You

Written By: Merlin Snider

Sweet Star Jasmine, a jar of sun tea
Trading sips of you and me
The sun refuses to fall in the sea
But he's teasing in the branches of a pepper tree

Kids are running through a sprinkler's rain
The sound of your voice hits my parched brain
Now the golden light finds the pools of your eyes
I'm coming in again, my, the water's fine

So long, so long, since I tasted such sweet and cool
It's been so long since I had a drink of you

Hummingbird is beating his wings
A lazy butterfly is me in his dreams
A longhaired dog is barking up the right tree, now
people are smiling like they know what he means

Our stomachs are growling for the barbecue
I stop & wonder how I got to be here with you
Now the moon is lending a shade of pale blue
Soon we'll be sipping the morning dew

So long, so long, since I tasted such sweet and cool
It's been so long since I had a drink of you

It's been so long since I had a drink of you

Stuck in Ojai

Written By: Merlin Snider

You left your futon and dishes with me
To climb a New York apple tree
Baby, I’m still stuck in Ojai
Artsy poor & little town bored
Send me a little bit of big city lore
Send it to your baby stuck in Ojai

Tell me all about your smart friends in Soho
Tell me what they know that, I don’t know

Go and learn to talk that New York talk
Just promise me you ain’t forgot
Who is your baby stuck in Ojai

Baby, I’m still stuck in Ojai

Lonely & bored & lookin’ forward
to “You’ve got Mail” but I’m so ignored
Baby, I’m dying here in Ojai
While you chase the ghosts of the folk elite
from a sublet closet on Bleecker Street
You’re in a Phil Ochs-Guthrie-Simon-Garfunkle

Wish I could see you there on Washington Square
Only trouble is, babe, I don’t care . . . about

Bromberg, Von Ronk, Bobby Dylan
My thoughts is with ya, but my feet ain’t willin’
Baby, I’m sticking here in Ojai

I thought we’d be together ‘til the Bitter End, seems
Like you’ve had second thoughts, you click, unsend me
Go and close the Village Gate,
Turn out the Gaslight on me

Go and learn to talk that New York talk
Just promise me you ain’t forgot
Who was your baby stuck in Ojai

Well, if you change your mind you know where to find me
Hanging with the oaks and the strawberries
Baby I’ll be right here in Ojai

It ain’t so bad on Ojai Ave.
Yeah, it’s too slow, but babe, you know
I like it here, stuck in Ojai

Only 10 months to go before the next big festival
I better start getting ready. Sure, I get

The small town blues, thinking of yous
Wondrin’ if you get ‘em in the big town too
When you do, remember Ojai
I’m still your baby stuck in Ojai
With a good book & herbal tea,
Yeah babe, that’s me
Forever your baby stuck in Ojai


"Between" (Barking Dog Music, 1999)

"Right Here" (Barking Dog Music, 2009)

"Right Here" has received wide airplay on folk radio. Among Top Albums May 2009 on

Among "Rich's Picks," June 6, 2009, by Rich Warren, host of WFMT's The Midnight Special.

"Between" also received wide airplay. David Weide of KUNV listed the thought-provoking song, "Hello Jesus" among "Favorites of 2000."

["Right Here"] is a comfortable friend to have in my CD player,” wrote Steve Clarke, host, Acoustic Planet, Erin Radio, Ontario, Canada.

Songs from "Right Here" receiving the most airplay are, "Molly's Got Her Red Dress On," "Mama Don't Work Here," "Right Here in the Every Day," "Insomnia," "Santa Cruz," "Stuck in Ojai, and "Drink of You." Every song on the album has received airplay on FM radio.

Set List

Merlin Snider with Pretty Good Acquaintances plays shows of 8 - 14 songs or until we or the audience collapses. Typical sets include songs from Merlin's two released albums, "Right Here," and "Between" and whatever is brewing for the upcoming third album.