The first time I saw Kinky Friedman I was covering a concert by him and the Texas Jewboys in a club in Dallas, Texas. My friend Eddy came along with me and prior to the show we visited the dressing room. The first sight of Kinky almost took my breath away, black cowboy hat, and other cowboy regalia topped off with fluorescent green shag carpet chaps. He sported a moustache and was smoking the largest doobie I’d ever seen.
He greeted Ed and me with a hearty, “Hello Americans!” I really didn't know much about him, we had received his album with kind of a garish cover a few weeks before, but I was busy with other records and didn’t pay much attention. I vaguely remember looking at the song-list and seeing titles like “Ride ‘Em Jewboy,” and “They Ain’t Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore.” I figured it was a gag, but when he came to town and went to greet him, met one of the most interesting artists of my career. Kinky is something of a Renaissance Man with many interests and talents, and a great sense of the absurd. He loves to put people on.
Kinky’s nickname came from a songwriter/musician who was commenting on his hair, not his sexual proclivities, which would have been a better story. “Ride ‘Em Jewboy” is about the holocaust, and Kinky is a brilliant satirist, that later would be a successful author of fiction.
His father was a Prof. at the University of Texas and they lived on a ranch, which also served as a camp for kids in the summer. Kinky, like my friend Doug Sahm, was a friend of Bob Dylan's and toured with him twice, once on the incredible Rolling Thunder Review.
He introduced us to his sidekick, Little Jewford, and we chatted about his life. He had been in the Peace Corps., a real rarity among musical acts at the time. I remember he said something like: “They sent me to Borneo to teach the natives how to farm, but it turned out they taught me how to live.” There were always records that didn’t quite fit into any radio format, and Kinky’s was one of those; some radio stations feared that his song titles would be offensive to some listeners, with titles like: “Asshole from El Paso,” and the aforementioned “They Ain’t Makin’ Jews Like Jesus Anymore.”
Kinky’s career has been one of constant surprises. He wrote a series of successful detective novels starring himself, and then jumped into politics running for Texas Governor and finishing fourth in a field of six, but his campaign was far and away the most interesting and amusing.
One of his greatest accomplishments is sheltering abused animals at his Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch near Kerrville, TX. To his great credit more than 1000 dogs have been saved from euthanasia. The Kinksters also been personal friends with both Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush… and better than that, he also hangs out with the legendary Willie Nelson.
Ride 'Em Jewboy
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