New Kinky Friedman Album Finds Tragedy In Romance

Kinky Friedman enjoying some pinball at Poison Girl
Kinky Friedman enjoying some pinball at Poison Girl
Photo by Texas Redd

Leave it to never-elected political kamikaze, novelist, tequila and cigar entrepreneur, and part-time folk singer Kinky Friedman to slide right past The Loneliest Man I Ever Met, his new album and his first fresh recording in 32 years, and jump straight into the political cesspool off the high diving board without his water wings.

“Donald Trump is looking pretty viable to me,” says Friedman from his ranch/animal rescue operation outside Kerrville, where he ran unsuccessfully for County Commissioner before lifting his sights to the Governor’s Mansion and, more recently, the Agriculture Commissioner’s fiefdom. “Under some of the bluster he’s got some good ideas, I think. I heard Hillary’s raised $2 billion already, but to me she’s just an empty pants suit.”

[Oh, hell, let’s get this interview back on track.]

But what about your new album? Why a new album? Why now?

Upcoming Events

“Lots of people had been pestering me to do something new,” informs Friedman. “What finally got the ball rolling was meeting my producer, Brian Molnar, at a house party in New Jersey. He started opening some shows for me and we managed to convince ourselves I should make a new record. And now here we’ve got it done and I’m about to start a tour where I’ll be playing 34 nights in a row. I told ’em not to leave any open days because I think you get better when the fatigue sets in and you’re just going on fumes and instinct and adrenaline and booze and the feel of the thing. Sometimes that causes magic to happen.”

Friedman gushes praise on his young producer, who "brought some fresh ears to the table."

“Brian had some great ideas about how to make this album work. Except for the track with Willie, we recorded the whole thing here at the ranch,” Friedman explains. “The most amazing thing about it is that Brian had never produced a record before, but I’ll be damned if he didn’t capture every breath. He brought down this very old-school microphone and a guitar player, Joe Cirotti, who plays with Brian, and he did a fabulous job. I was actually surprised how much I liked the finished product.”

The album consists of some choice covers and a half dozen of Friedman’s lesser-known tunes, like the title track which was written about and for the late Nashville wild man and founding member of the Outlaw movement, Tompall Glaser.

“I was just another struggling songwriter in Nashville when I wrote that with Will Hoover,” Friedman recalls. “Tompall recorded it but I don’t think many people remember it, and I always thought it was a pretty good song. Tompall was one of my biggest supporters when I was living in Nashville. [Author’s note: Glaser was such a big supporter of Friedman’s he managed to get Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys a slot on the Grand Ole Opry, complete with an introduction by Hank Snow. That will never happen again.]

“They don’t write songs like those anymore in Nashville,” Friedman observes. “It’s all pretty much done by committee up there now, so any chance of having a song that is unique or that has a true emotion in it is virtually nonexistent. That’s a trend I was reacting to when we were picking the songs for the album.”

One thing the new album does is demonstrate what a gifted interpreter of other artist's songs Friedman is. When he sings Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried,” he drenches it in honest sentiment; you can literally imagine Friedman remembering the trials and tribulations of his own mother. But the two covers that stop a listener dead are Tom Waits’ “Christmas Card From a Hooker In Minneapolis” and Warren Zevon’s dying man’s lament, “My Shit’s Fucked Up.” It is difficult to imagine anyone — maybe Waits — bringing the dead-level, nothing-but-the-truth gravitas to these rough life anthems that Friedman applies to them. He renders both tunes like a man who’s seen the MRI results and knows the jig is up.

“In Waits’s version of 'Christmas Card,' he’s fucked up while he's reading the letter. The way I tried to do it, the woman is fucked up and I’m actually sympathetic to her plight,” Friedman explains.

But it is his rendering of Zevon’s “My Shit’s Fucked Up” that Friedman seems proudest of.

“The way I approached it, I wanted it to be that the world as we know it is fucked up, not just that one of us is sick and going to die,” says Friedman. “That track’s not destined for radio play, it’s sung for the silent witness and the lost cat. But if it was 30 years ago, this song is a hit like that Tallahatchie Bridge song."

Friedman says the only hiccup in the plans was the recording of the opening track with Willie Nelson along with sister Bobbie Nelson and bassman Kevin Smith at Willie’s Pedernales studio.

“I was so fucked up,” Friedman complains. “I don’t smoke that stuff anymore unless Willie makes me, and whatever it is he’s getting, it just wrecked me. My timing was off, I was dragging, and the whole time Willie’s just picking and grinning at me. But, you know how it goes, if anything on the album gets some radio play it will probably be 'Bloody Mary Morning.'"

So what exactly is the album’s overarching theme?

The Loneliest Man I Ever Met is about romance which is, of necessity, tragic. Just look at Romeo and Juliet. It’s just a sappy love story until they die. Romance is tragedy.”

Friedman will appear at a Cactus Music instore at 5:30 p.m. Friday. Check back tomorrow, when we will debut two songs from the new album.

Use Current Location

Related Location

miles
Cactus Music

2110 Portsmouth
Houston, TX 77098

713-526-9272

www.cactusmusictx.com


Sponsor Content

Newsletters

All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >