The Jewish Cowboy
Kinky Friedman on music, satire and Rick Perry's hair
By Samantha Anne Scott
How do you feel about Black Friday?
[It’s] something I do care about because I'm considering getting a job as a Wal-Mart greeter. It's very Christlike, for the good ones that can do it. I'm a man of the people anyway, but I think I will become a Wal-Mart greeter eventually. Right now, I don't know if I'm old enough. I'm 67. But I read at the 69-year-old level.
Why is satire important?
I think it was Bob Dylan that said art should not reflect culture, it should subvert it. And I always have thought that's a good idea. A lot of people are successful reflecting culture and it's pretty pathetic—especially if the culture is like the American culture today. We're out of sync. We're like little autistic children who are not sure whether to laugh or to cry and don't know the right times to laugh and to cry.
So, what's in the Hanukkah Tour repertoire?
The tour is being done in the Townes Van Zandt, Woody Guthrie spirit. A completely solo tour—Lee Harvey Oswald, party of one! As well as a reading and a town hall political question-and-answer thing, I will do the song “They Ain't Makin' Jews Like Jesus Anymore.” I put it back in the repertoire ’cause it's such a big favorite with people. And people seem to be getting it today. I went through a decade or so of political correctness, which just made the songs impossible to play. Now, everybody gets it.
What about “We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service to You”?
You'll hear that and “Ol' Ben Lucas” and “Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in the Bed.” I am updating some of my lyrics, the way Bob Dylan will take the same song over 50 years and update it a little bit. For instance, “Waitret, please waitret, come sit on my Facebook ... .” One thing we'll have at the Santa Fe show will be free samples of the new tequila, ’cause everybody likes a little Mexican mouthwash now and then. Kinky Friedman's Man in Black tequila is a salute to Zorro, Paladin [“Have Gun—Will Travel”] and Johnny Cash.
Who are your favorite musicians?
Just like politicians, my favorites are all dead, with a few exceptions: Kris [Kristofferson], Merle [Haggard], Levon [Helm], Billy Bob [Thornton], Willie [Nelson] and Billy Joe [Shaver]. That's the group that I know, that I think if you go to a show, you might come away saying, I really saw greatness tonight. You wanna see great music, you gotta see a geezer.
Are you still planning to will your ashes to Rick Perry's hair?
Yes, that stands. As many people know, I like Rick but I'm not his soul mate, you know, or a fan, or an admirer of his as a governor. But then I look around at all the other governors and they're a very uninspiring group. We don't have a Huey Long in the bunch.
A lot of folks took your Daily Beast essay on Perry as an endorsement.
That was interesting ’cause that was just what Billy Bob [Thornton] warned me about the Internet—that once they started saying I endorsed Rick Perry, I couldn't dissuade anybody. I didn't endorse Rick Perry. I was just trying to make people think, you know? Just trying to find some good in my former political foe. That's Churchillian, Lincolnian. What's wrong with that? All I was trying to do was be a good Christian, but the fact is, as a Jew boy, I had trouble being a good Christian there.
But you are a man of the people.
People are very untrustworthy animals. I'm a man of the people, unlike Rick Perry and President Obama. I mean, I genuinely like people. Further, Obama and Rick Perry would make terrible Wal-Mart greeters and I'd make a very good one. In fact, maybe after this tour ...
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