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  • Kinky Friedman's Golden Heart For Gold Star Kids

    Posted October 2020

    Kinky 2019 2 By Issy Drinkall CroppedKinky Friedman. The name itself will always stick in your mind once you’ve heard it. If you’ve even talked to the man behind the name, you’ll never forget him and will always want to hear what he has to say.

    The Texas humorist, songwriter, author, and all-around great guy will always regale those around him with stories and his unique insights into the world, country, state, and the human condition. When listening to him, one gets the impression that he’s relaying what he sees in the film reels in his mind. Love won. Love lost. Perceptions about man’s misconceptions. I don’t know for sure but I wonder if he’s a man who is looking back over his life (like we all do or will do) and wonder “What if? Coulda, shoulda, woulda.” I don’t know that for sure. Just a thought.

    What I do know is that Kinky and his sister, Marcie, have reopened the family ranch, Echo Hill, to help Gold Star kids. In doing so, they’re Click Above To Listen To Our Interview With Kinky Friedman welcoming volunteers from all over to help in getting the camp ready for an onslaught of these deserving kids so that they can have an enjoyable time at the camp.

    When I heard that Kinky and Marcie were doing this noble act, I reached out to Kinky to chat about it. I reached him at the ranch and we had a leisurely, laid-back conversation about the endeavor and life in general.

    Please give this audio of the chat a close listen. Once you’re finished listening to it, please come back here and click on the Echo Hill logo located on this page. There, you will be able to learn of the various ways that you can help Kinky and Marcie with their worthy cause.

    If this is the first time you're hearing of Kinky and want to learn more about the man, the following is the biography posted on his website, KinkyFriedman.com.

    EchoHillLogoClick Above To Learn How You Can Help Kinky Help Gold Star KidsRichard “Kinky” Friedman isn’t your usual troubadour. The iconic song and book man has been roaming the clubs, halls and bookstores of America since the 1970s with his highly unique persona, brilliant, button-pushing songs, a pantheon of entertaining books and his trademark endless cigars. Returning to the music fold full-time in recent years, Friedman has released a trilogy of sorts featuring some of the best recordings and songwriting of his long career. The “Resurrected Trilogy” starts with The Loneliest Man I Ever Met (2015), soon followed by Circus of Life and Resurrection, all terrific collections with each one surpassing the last.

    After splashing down in the corporate country world of Nashville in the early 70s, Kinky, who was born in Chicago but reared from an early age in Kerrville, TX, returned to his native Texas after releasing such notable and hilariously-charged songs as “Asshole From El Paso,” “They Ain’t Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore,” “Dear Abbie” and “Ride ‘Em Jewboy.” Kinky’s 1973 debut, Sold American, is a classic of satire and politically-incorrect genius that set him up for a career of irreverence, charm and empathy for the common man and woman. As Kinky dealt with the compromised music industry of past decades, he grew increasingly frustrated by the constant pressures from his record companies to deliver hits, which made the process of recording in the studio far from enjoyable. He stepped away from the music business proper to focus on his burgeoning literary career. A fruitful endeavor it became, successfully spawning nearly twenty deliciously witty detective novels and ten non-fiction books. Based on his own life and several of his closest friends, the characters in Kinky’s mystery novels are as timeless and effervescent as the author himself or one of his cigars.

    Kinky never stopped playing music, he just stopped wanting to deal with the business aspects of it. While writing his books, Kinky kept a regular and notorious Monday gig at the infamous Lone Star Café in New York City in the early 80s, as well as the occasional jaunt across the country and abroad. He went back on the road more and more as the 90s and the 21st Century came along and finally, at the behest and encouragement of longtime admirer and musician Brian Molnar, Kinky got back into writing and recording mostly full-time about ten years ago. By 2012, Kinky was hitting the road full-time with Molnar as his right-hand man. They toured for a good five years while Brian got Kink excited about recording again, insisting he wouldn’t “be on the clock” as he was so often when under contract with the big record companies. They even recorded at Kinky’s Echo Hill Ranch. This relaxed and excited Kinky about recording again and together they picked choice covers and old or unfinished Kinky songs for his first album in decades, The Loneliest Man I Ever Met. The process and the album reignited Kinky’s love of songwriting and he quickly fell back into his old habit of putting lyrics to resurrectioncoverOrder Kinky's New LP, Resurrection, By Clicking Abovemusic. Kinky wrote so much that he had plenty of material for the two albums that soon followed – Circus Of Life (2018) and the still-new Resurrection, which is getting the best reviews of his career. Brian produced Circus of Life and Kink’s old buddy and former bandmate, renowned guitarist/producer Larry Campbell (Bob Dylan, Levon Helm) was recruited to produce the gorgeous and timeless Resurrection. Willie Nelson appears on two of the three parts of the trilogy and had Kinky perform at his virtual July 4th Annual Picnic this year. Two new videos from Willie’s Luck Films for Resurrection add to the current virtual glow.

    Kinky’s got the bug again alright, he is writing songs and new books and can’t wait to perform again. He never really stopped touring and performs with more gravitas and humor than is probably legal. As he navigates his eighth decade on this rock, the Kinkster impatiently waits for the current pandemic to fade so he can return to the theatres, clubs and book havens to regale the ever-willing public with his wisdom, humor and empathetic delivery. Once the shows get the green light, expect to see Kinky Friedman lighting up more than his cigar, for as long as it will burn.

                  • Roger Len Smith 2020
  • Stalking The Red Headed Stranger

    stalkingredheadedstangercoverStalking The Red Headed Stranger
    Author: Randy Poe
    Publisher: Hal Leonard
    Review Date: March, 2012

    If you’re into music at all, you’ve likely heard stories about people who’ve hit the financial jackpot by writing that one song that became a huge hit. Being the coin operated guy that I am, I tried my hand at songwriting only to find that Itsy Bitsy Spider had already been written.

    Another story for another time. I will say this, though. My tale of woe would’ve have never happened had I read Randy Poe’s (Wait! Woe. Poe. I think I’ve got an idea for a great song!) book, Stalking the Red Headed Stranger.

    Before I share my thoughts about this great book, let me tell you about Mr. Poe.
    Besides having an uber-cool first name, Randy Poe has an incredibly impressive resume. He has been president of the legendary Leiber & Stoller Music Publishing (writers of such iconic hits as Jailhouse Rock, Stand By Me, Yakety Yak, and many, many others) for 27 years. He’s also the former president of the California Copyright Conference and has authored Skydog: The Duane Allman Story; Squeeze My Lemon: A Collection of Classic Blues Lyrics and the winner of the ASCAP/Deems Taylor Award, Music Publishing: A Songwriter’s Guide. He’s also on the advisory board of the publication Sing Out!

    So, as you can see, Mr. Poe knows some stuff about some songwriting stuff so you’ll want to buy this book and take his words to heart.

    Oh, about the book: First of all, the title is actually: Stalking the Red Headed Stranger or How to Get Your Songs into the Hands of the Artists Who Really matter Through Show Business Trickery, Underhanded Skullduggery, Shrewdness, and Chicanery, as Well as Various Less Nefarious Methods of Song Pluggin: A Practical Handbook and Historical Portrait.

    I have no earthly idea why the publisher’s press release says it “is the hippest, funniest, longest-titled how-to book you’ll read this year” but I’m sure it will dawn on me eventually. I will say that the title has nearly doubled the usual length of my reviews but that’s okay.

    So, the book’s main focus is the history and fine art of “song plugging”. Poe covers this skill from a variety of perspectives: how and why it began; how some hits of the past came about through the efforts of song pluggers; and (very important to you budding songwriters) how songwriters can pitch the songs that they have written. That last bit of help is worth the price of the book a thousand times over and, with many Boomerocity readers being musicians and songwriters, I know that you'll want to order the book now just for that reason.

    Threaded throughout the book is the incredibly funny and enlightening story of how Poe chased Willie Nelson (via planes, ferryboat, taxis and cars) across Canada to pitch one song to Nelson . . . and what happens on Willie’s bus doesn’t stay on Willie’s bus. Just ask Toby Keith.

    The song? Ah! Well, you’ll just have to buy and read the book to find out the answer to that question.

  • The Loneliest Man I Ever Met

         

    The Loneliest Man I Ever Met
    Kinky Friedman
    Label: Avenue A Records/Thirty Tigers
    Release Date: October 2, 2015
    Review Date: September 27, 2015

    Nobody could invent a character quite like Kinky Friedman, the stogie-waving, black-hat-wearing Texas Jewboy singer, storyteller, tequila purveyor, animal rescuer and full-time iconoclast. Though renowned for penning some of outlaw country’s most outrageous songs, authoring bestsellers and running for governor of Texas, his 45-year career includes touring with Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue; recording with Clapton, most of the Band and Ringo Starr; appearing on Saturday Night Live and at the Grand Ole Opry; and writing one of Nelson Mandela’s favorite songs. He also became the protagonist of his own crime novels, because even he couldn’t invent a character that could out-kink Kinky Friedman.

    But what he hasn’t done in over 30 years is record a new studio album.

    Friedman’s The Loneliest Man I Ever Met, releasing October 2 on Avenue A Records/Thirty Tigers, might be one of the longest-awaited follow-ups in recent memory. Not that fans have complained; the continued popularity of tunes such as “Sold American,” “Nashville Casualty and Life” and “Ride ’Em Jewboy” (the Holocaust-referencing song that soothed Mandela in prison) prove Kinky is that rare talent whose work withstands the test of time. Friedman still delivers those songs — interspersed with his inimitable blend of politically incorrect quips, jokes and tales both tall and true — to appreciative audiences around the world.

    Still, there were more sentiments he needed to express — his own and those of colleagues such as Tom Waits, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Merle Haggard and his pal Willie Nelson, who produced and performs on his own “Bloody Mary Morning.” The album’s opening song, which also features Willie’s sister, Bobbie, on piano and Kevin Smith on standup bass, is rendered as a spare duet, their traded lines punctuated with Nelson’s Spanish guitar-picking. Conveying both immediacy and intimacy, it sets the tone for the other 11 tracks, all produced by Brian Molnar and featuring guitarist Joe Cirotti, with harmonica by Willie’s Family Band mate Mickey Raphael and piano contributions by Little Jewford, Kinky’s sidekick since his first post-Peace Corps job — bandleader of the Texas Jewboys.

    Though songs such as Waits’ “A Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis,” Haggard’s “Mama’s Hungry Eyes,” Dylan’s “Girl from the North Country” and Friedman’s own “Lady Yesterday,” not to mention his 20-year-old, never-recorded co-write with Tim Hoover, “I’m the Loneliest Man I Ever Met,” seem filled with melancholy, despair and regret — and certainly, loneliness — Friedman suggests they’re something else: Romantic. 

    He explains, “What I’ve tried to do is interpret some of these songs. But it’s not like Tony Bennett sings Willie Nelson; it’s more spiritually halfway between those people and me. So if you’re not a little bit melancholy, maybe you should be.

    “A happy American creates nothing great,” he adds. “My definition of an artist is someone who’s ahead of his time and behind on his rent. If you can figure out how to stay that way, you can write the great shit that Kris [Kristofferson] and Willie were able to do. Look at what shape Willie was in when he was writing in Nashville — he had three little kids and was just broke, living in a trailer park. Willie wrote ‘Night Life, ‘Funny How Time Slips Away’ and ‘Crazy’ all in one week — a terrible week in his life.”

    That’s what country music was all about, according to Kinky, before it came “homogenized and trivialized and sanitized.”

    Railing against such perceived evils — whether cultural, political, social or in any other realm of human experience — is one of Friedman’s favorite pastimes, which is why he calls Warren Zevon’s “My S***’s ****** Up” possibly the album’s most important song. The late Zevon wrote it as a commentary on his own failing health, but Friedman finds it a perfect allegory for the current state of world affairs. As a man who has traveled much of the planet, quotes Winston Churchill, calls two presidents pals and now labels himself “governor of the heart of Texas” (as chosen by voters everywhere but in his home state), he’s in a position to know.

    But in most cases, the selections, which also include a lesser-known Cash song that was Friedman’s father’s favorite (“Pickin’ Time”) and two Great American Songbook tunes (“Wand’rin’ Star” and “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square”), reflect more personal feelings.

    To Friedman, they’re significant works by significant people, and he wants others to hear them. That’s one big reason why he’s gearing up for yet another of what the calls his “bi-polar” tours.

    “I enjoy being on the road,” he says, noting his latest foray, launching October 9, includes something like 30 dates without a break. “You can imagine what shape you’re in,” he adds. “It’s kind of stream-of-nervousness.”

    But Friedman also likes getting out there and meeting people, which, he notes, is a good thing, “because if my career goes south, I may become a Wal-Mart greeter.”

    Yeah, the rim-shot lines flow just like that from a guy once characterized as the Frank Zappa of outlaw country. But he kids, of course. Because as soon as he finishes this tour, he’ll likely start another, signing copies of his soon-to-be-released who-done-it, The Hard-Boiled Computer (a title that carries no small dose of irony, coming as it does from a guy who claims not to own an email or text account and who will remove the cigar stub from his mouth long enough to insist, “Real cowboys don’t tweet”).

    His other schemes — joining ISIS or planning the perfect country-music death — likely won’t work, either, because he’s also busy creating a series of TV movies based on his mysteries, with Billy Bob Thornton playing the role of Kinky.

    There’s also the Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch to think of, and perhaps turning those summer-camp cabins into the Shalom Retirement Village for old musicians.

    “Maybe I’ll just have to get back to songwriting,” he says, stifling a sigh, “so the next one will have more Kinky originals.”

    Though “hurry up” apparently is not part of his lexicon, it’s safe to assume we won’t have to wait quite as long for those. If he sticks with career plan A. It’s worked pretty well so far.

    Look for the full Boomerocity interview with Kinky in a couple of weeks!