Culture

Kinky Friedman is the Loneliest Man He Ever Met

For a man who hasn’t been in a recording studio for over three decades, Kinky Friedman’s latest album, “The Loneliest Man I’ve Ever Met,” will likely surprise his fans. As front man for the Texas Jewboys, the Kinkster made his musical bones as the master of political incorrectness.

“Loneliest Man” is a solemn (and sometimes politically incorrect) look into the human condition, love lost and spirituality – serious topics for the man who wrote “They Ain’t Makin’ Jews Like Jesus Anymore.”

I caught up with The Kinnster at his ranch outside Austin, Texas, as he readied for what he called a “Hank Williams’ level” whirlwind tour of 30 cities in 30 days. Willie Nelson convinced him the hard-driving schedule leads to a more adrenalin-induced, raw performance. “Of course, Willie also signs autographs in the rain.”

“Loneliest Man” is an eclectic collection of tunes written by friends like Willie Nelson, Warren Zevon, Johnny Cash and Tom Waits. While there are only three Friedman originals on the recording, don’t dare refer to “Loneliest Man” a cover album.

“With this record,” Friedman explained, “we’re offering more of a mirror than a record. The songs we used tell you more about you than it does about the record.”

To explain the mood Friedman was searching for on the album, he talked about his rendition of Tom Wait’s “Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis.” “I think the song is a beautiful fabrication – the whole song – and only the last line is true,” he said. “And probably we’re all more similar to the hooker in Minneapolis than most of us would think.”

Freidman’s jaunty version of Bob Dylan’s “Girl from the North Country” makes the listener wonder if he is singing about the hooker from the male perspective.

“Pickin’ Time”, an obscure Johnny Cash tune, made its way onto the album because it was a favorite of Friedman’s father. Again, the song holds a deeper meaning for Friedman, who believes it’s about meeting one’s maker. ””Pickin’ Time” is another one I take a zen-like interpretation of,” he said. “And I would submit it’s not about a farmer in overalls waiting for his crop to come in. I don’t care if you’re Jew or Christian, I think it’s about every one of us who is laying back until pickin’ time. Which is just about all of us.”

Kinky scoffed at the thought that the relationship songs on the album are turning him into a 70 year old crooner. “Kind of like Weird Al becoming a crooner,” he laughed. Still the manner in which he offers up many of these new tunes leaves the listener remembering an old relationship with a sardonic smile. “True love usually results in a hostage situation,” Friedman pontificated. “It’s a very dangerous thing. Most of the time true love ends in tragedy. If Romeo and Juliet had lived happily ever after we wouldn’t know their names.”

And “Loneliest Man” is not without the political incorrectness fans have come to expect from the Kinkster. He sings a spirited rendition of Warren Zevon’s “My Shit’s Fucked Up.” But even here, Friedman finds there’s more to the song than meets the eye.

“Is Warren Zevon’s doctor, Jesus Christ?” Friedman asked. “It is so clear to me that this song applies to so much more than one man dying of cancer. This is now the state of the world and the state of the country. And what are we going to do about it? And what can we do about it? Our shit’s fucked up. If people don’t know the song they’ll laugh in the beginning. Then they’ll realize what it is.”

As can happen in his live shows, the rhetorical question turned into a rambling political monologue.

“My view of politics has been borne out. Poli means more than one and tics are blood sucking parasites.” Just like Mark Twain said: ‘History doesn’t repeat itself, but sometimes it rhymes.’ And that’s what’s happening now with the Iranian deal we made and all this appeasement going on. It couldn’t be more similar to Neville Chamberlain. I say this as a reader of Churchill, because all misunderstood geniuses read Churchill.”

So when Kinky hits the stage fans can expect some old thrown in with the new, and, of course, some of his unique world view.

“What slips through your fingers is all that you keep.” This simple view of life drives Kinky Friedman’s “Loneliest Man.” I disagree. Don’t let it slip away. Buy it. Go to the show. And keep it forever.

To follow Kinky Friedman tour dated, go to: http://www.kinkyfriedman.com/events.

To read more by award winning author Rick Robinson, go to www.authorRickRobinson.com.