Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Kinky Friedman

Today we’re gonna cheat a bit: our record today isn’t from our sister’s record collection, it’s a leftover from our pile of Essential Texas Party Albums that we talked about yesterday.  Kinky Friedman is the self-titled second LP from singer/songwriter/author/gubernatorial candidate/Fine American Kinky Friedman and although it would be a cool party record I’m afraid it would offend most normal, sensible people.

Now nobody would accuse a regular Texan of being normal or even sensible, so that’s why Kinky Friedman is a hero in our great state.  Nevertheless, when Kinky Friedman first appeared in 1974 it was met with overwhelming indifference by the great American Audience despite the fact that a couple of the songs are excellent country tunes, a couple more are pretty funny, a couple more are pretty strange and one song is simply one of the most politically incorrect ditties ever written.

“Rapid City, South Dakota” is one of those very nice country tunes.  The singer tells of picking up a young hitchhiker who’s running away from something.  “Now the reason he was goin’/ I ain’t sure I could say/ Might’ve been the rodeo in Santa Fe,” the singer explains.  “There’s a doctor in Chicago/I know she’ll be all right/He told himself as he stared into the night.”  The next tune is another sensitive ballad, but it’s only when you get to the chorus that you begin to notice something is amiss: it’s about “Popeye the Sailor Man.”

“Homo Erectus” is hilarious, propelled by a nimble arrangement and (appropriately) a Jew’s harp, and it’s a love song to our hero’s professor of anthropology in college.  “Before All Hell Breaks Loose” is similarly clever and funny, even though it casts the world in a rather despairing light.  “Now I know what the gypsy meant/When he told me I’d never be President,” Kinky says – which is good because you don’t have to be a gypsy to know he sure as hell is going to run for Texas governor again.

Another sensitive ballad exposes another of our great American heroes in “Something’s Wrong With the Beaver,” and “When The Lord Closes The Door (He Opens A Little Window)” is the other one of those fine country songs.  Then we get to the first of the two most important songs on the album: “Autograph”  is a brilliant look behind the curtains of celebrity (not that Kinky was ever that famous).  It could be about Elvis, it could be about Bob Dylan or the Beatles, it could be about James Dean – but it concludes with the heartbreaking “Turn on your radio/The words you hear are mine.  Shoulda told you long ago/But I never had the time.”

Then we get to, ahem, the most notorious song on Kinky Friedman: “They Ain’t Makin’ Jews Like Jesus Anymore,” in which Kinky encounters a big-mouth racist in a bar.  The drunk manages to berate just about every racial or religious group which makes Kinky snap and knock him on his ass.  “If there’s one thing I can’t stand/It’s an ethnocentric racist,” Kinky says.  The song rocks into the final choruses, with Texas luminaries like Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings and Doug Sahm wailing along (if the liner notes are to be believed).  The message is right on, but the way Kinky gets to it is kind of, ah, unique and of course it managed to offend a great many people.  By the way, “They Ain’t Making Jews …” is not the most un-P.C. song ever – that would have to be “Asshole From El Paso,” also performed by Kinky Friedman, naturally.

Kinky went on to offend even more people in 1975 when he played some of the songs from this album (along with “Asshole From El Paso” and “Ballad of Charles Whitman,” about a real-life mass murderer) for the “Austin City Limits TV show.  Although the show never aired, you can get it on DVD (and CD) and it’s highly recommended – even the part where people walk out on Kinky after the first song.

MP3: “Rapid City, South Dakota”

MP3: “Before All Hell Breaks Loose”

MP3: “They Ain’t Makin’ Jews Like Jesus Anymore” (NFSW, needless to say)

Kinky Friedman official website (scroll down to get past the cigar advertisements)

One Response to “Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Kinky Friedman”

  1. ANYONE who can write a song titled “They Ain’t Makin’ Jews Like Jesus Anymore” deserves the world’s undying love.

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