Primer | November 13, 2014
Mazel Tov, Kinky Friedman


kinky friedman

Kinky Friedman turned 70 earlier this month. That’s something of a milestone. He’s led many lives. Failed candidate for Governor of Texas. Independence works in music, but rarely in politics. Author of bestselling mystery novels and a little non-fiction too. He toured with Bob Dylan’s 1976 Rolling Thunder Revue. Befriended Willie Nelson. Formed a band, The Texas Jewboys. And long before Johnny Manziel was the favorite son of Kerrville, Texas, it was where Kinky Friedman hailed from. Joined the Peace Corps. As a kid, he was even a chess prodigy. Raconteur, humorist, corny-joke teller. But first and foremost, Richard “Kinky” Big Dick Friedman is an artist. And one without compare. Not because he’s the best or the most important country singer. Hardly. But he’s surely one of the most unique. There were a lot of poor imitations of Merle, Waylon and Cash to come down the pike. Popularity breeds these cheap facsimiles. Only a shameless fraud would attempt to copy Kinky. It wouldn’t work either. The sui generis of country music.

divider

kinky friedman

Friedman fashions himself as the irreverent hodgepodge of Mark Twain, Will Rogers and Hank Williams. In a country where the first amendment is lauded in theory but often squelched in practice, he’s a shining example of everything that’s right with free speech. Anyone can be offended. But no one has to care. That’s the essence of Kinky Friedman – provocation. Outrage welcome. America needs artists like Kinky Friedman to push boundaries. And not in the wardrobe malfunction sense either. His song topics aren’t what you’d imagine typically hearing at the Ryman Auditorium. Murder: The Ballad of Charles Whitman.” Abortion: “Rapid City, South Dakota.” The Holocaust: “Ride ‘Em Jewboy.” Women’s Liberation: “Get Your Biscuits in the Oven.” Fame: “Autograph.” Racism: “They Ain’t Makin’ Jews Like Jesus Anymore.” Poignant, crude, satirical. Call it sophomoric erudition. An invaluable contribution to American arts and letters. And the songs usually swing too.

Without further delay, here’s a primer. Mazel Tov, Kinky.