Following his Springtime for Kinky and Go West Young Kinky tours last year plus an appearance at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, songwriter, musician, author, politician, animal lover, cigar entrepreneur and self-proclaimed Governor of the Heart of Texas Kinky Friedman left his Echo Hill Ranch for a Midwest and East Coast dates as part of his Springtime for Friedman Tour of 2011.
The controversial, witty and proudly politically incorrect artist made a lasting impression on the music scene, following a stint as a member of the Peace Corps in Borneo, when he fronted the Texas Jewboys. The name was not only a play on words of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys but a nod to Friedman’s ancestry and years growing up on in Texas. It also prepared listeners for songs of slashing social commentary such as “They Ain’t Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore,” “Sold American,” “People Who Read People Magazine,” and in a response to Merle Haggard’s “Okie from Muskogee,” “Asshole from El Paso,”
Since the mid-‘80s he began writing novels and slowly made the transition away from recording new material. The current tour encompasses all aspects of his career. “This is gonna be great. I look forward to it. We’ll have a lot of music, some politics, and readings from the book “Heroes of a Texas Childhood.” He will sign copies of that book, one of 29 he’s published. He’s also been a contributor to “Playboy,” “New York Times” and “Texas Monthly.
“I will sign anything but bad legislation,” is the favorite line from the onetime candidate for governor of Texas.
Besides an upcoming Australian tour with Van Dyke Parks set for June, the Kinkster finds his good friend, Willie Nelson, preparing an album based on his songs, and has become immortalized on stage with the play “Becoming Friedman … The World According to Kinky Friedman,” written and directed by Ted Swindley (“Always … Patsy Cline”) and starring musician Jesse Dayton.
Like his multi-faceted life, the conversation shifts from his songs to his disgust with the current state of politics to good friends such as Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan and Mojo Nixon.
For someone who co-founded the Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch near Kerrville, Texas, which primarily rescues dogs as well as other stray, abused and aging animals, it seemed like a good idea to wish him a Happy Earth Day since the scheduled interview took on April 22. The best wishes were sent right back.
*JPG: I was going to ask this later, but since you brought up politics, as the self-proclaimed Governor of the Heart of Texas, would you secede from Texas if Governor Rick Perry secedes from the
United States of America?*
KF: I only have one plan for Rick Perry and that is when I die I’m to be cremated and the ashes are to be thrown in Rick Perry’s hair. Well, Perry’s a good talker, but he doesn’t really, he’s not really a man of the people and that’s the problem, and neither is Obama. I see a lot of similarities between the two, actually. They’re both really good candidates and politicians. Period. We don’t have a Winston Churchill in the bunch. And, of course, that’s a rare bird anyway.
When I had written “Heroes of a Texas Childhood,” I could see what made these people heroes. And it wasn’t winning. It wasn’t Charlie Sheen’s motto. Although, I would vote for Charlie Sheen over Rick Perry or Obama at this point. It wasn’t good luck. It was really the tragedy and failures of their lives and the obstacles they had to overcome, and how they did it that made them heroes. And today, you sitting up there in Ohio probably know who more of these people are than a lot of recent college graduates in Texas. I’m going to quiz you on it. It’s your interview, but let me ask you, do you know who Audie Murphy was?
JPG: Yes, my dad was a fan actually. (The Texas born and raised Murphy was a highly-decorated World War II soldier who then starred in 44 films, many of them Westerns, wrote the autobiography “To Hell and Back” and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.)
KF: Do you know who Barbara Jordan was?
JPG: The African-American politician?
KF: You got it! You’re two for two. Now those two I have not yet found a college graduate in Texas who’s ever heard of either one. Audie Murphy, they don’t know if he’s a basketball player or a singer. Barbara Jordan, they never heard of her. I mean that’s a start. Now, we’ve all heard of Davey Crockett and Sam Houston, but this is kind of the story behind the story because Davey Crockett was as fed up with politicians as the rest of us are now.
JPG: The book itself, was it a result of the realization of people not knowing history or was there some other inspiration that motivated you to put it together?
KF: It was an effort to show Democrats who I was in my mistaken effort to run as a Democrat. I ran as an Independent for Governor [in 2006]. That was an honest good thing that I should’ve been doing, but somebody convinced me that I run as a Democrat. The big problem is the primary system is rigged against any Independent. Unless you got 29 million bucks, you ain’t gonna make it. We haven’t had an Independent since Sam Houston. It’s been 165 years. Even to make the ballot, John, ‘cause that’s very tough. I’m the second one after Sam that made the ballot. So, that’s pathetic. And these big states it’s very hard for an Independent to win apparently. I got 600,000 votes. That would have been enough to win in Kansas or some place. It’s politics. ‘Poli’ means more than one and ‘tics’ means the bloodsucking parasites.
JPG: Yeah. That pretty much sums it up right there.
KF: During the campaign I said that musicians can better run this country than politicians. They won’t get a helluva lot done in the morning, but we’ll work late and we’ll be honest. That would be a refreshing change.
JPG: Maybe even put a tour manager in charge of things. They’d crack the whip.
KF: (laughs) All it requires is a little honesty and a little common sense. Neither of which we have. Those are very lacking qualities in Washington. That’s why I want to limit all these bastards to two terms. One term in office, one in prison.
JPG: (laughs) Well, we strayed far from originally planned but that’s fine…
KF: Wait a minute! You got one of the honest men. Ohio does. Dennis Kucinich. There’s three of them, and they’re widely regarded as wingnuts. Crazies. Ron Paul, Bernie Sanders and Dennis Kucinich are the only three men in Washington D.C. who are not corrupt.
JPG: Yeah. Sometimes I think it’s too bad that Ron had offspring. Isn’t that his son Rand Paul?
KF: (laughter) He probably regrets it himself. But you know Texas is a very independent thinking state, but when it comes to politics that is not true. Political parties really are the Crips and the Bloods, the bullies of the playground. They are the same guy admiring themselves in the mirror.
Good stuff there, James. I had no idea that Kinky was touring with Van Dyke Parks. That is totally awesome.
ever read his detective novels ?
they're funny in that kinky kind of way, kinda like groucho marx meets mickey spillane
talk about a one of a kind original!!!
Saw kinky & vdp last month (they toured australia) - FANTASTIC show. they both had the place in stitches at different points. got to meet vdp, great guy