Toth’s Law is akin to Murphy’s Law. Murphy admonishes, “If something can go wrong, it will.” Toth offers the musician’s corollary: when given a choice of two songs, the listener will always prefer the one the singer doesn’t. Both laws are glass-half-empty reproaches with Zen applications in real life. You can’t micromanage the outcome, so just roll with it.
The architect of Toth’s Law’s is James Jackson Toth, a songwriter better known by his stage name Wooden Wand. A road-tested bard with a recorded output that challenges even the most intrepid Discogs completist, Toth writes songs on a daily basis. With a songbook as thick as his, it is only natural that some tunes do not fly as far as others. Hence, Toth’s Law.
Wooden Wand has put this approach to songwriting on display twice this year. First, he released the majestic Clipper Ship, a full-length album that is both pastoral and motorik. Later, he uploaded Toth’s Law – a collection of ten songs written throughout the years - to Bandcamp before promptly removing them. Clipper Ship is in the world for posterity. Toth’s Law is no longer available. The duality endures.
James Toth brings his one-man Wooden Wand show to town for an intimate living room set at Recover Brands on Thursday, August 24th. In advance of the show, we asked him some questions over email. In his responses, James digs a little deeper into the meaning of Toth’s Law, sizes up the Grateful Dead’s studio albums, and gives us a preview of his upcoming Charlotte set.