Kinky Friedman’s Bringing His Texan Spirit To Oz

  • Written by  Rachel Barnes
  • Wednesday, 14 January 2015 11:26
Published in Music  
Kinky Friedman Kinky Friedman
Up in the hill country, deep in the heart of Texas, Kinky Friedman is settling down for a night on his ranch.

Surrounded by a family of animals, his four dogs and cat take up most of his time these days, especially tonight after a couple of his dogs had run away. On the look out for their return, Friedman was working on finishing his 19th mystery novel (his 34th novel in just 10 years), and he thinks it's his best yet.

In between finishing his novel, ‘Hard Boiled Computer’ (the longest he's written by far), and getting his two dogs back safely in his arms, Friedman is getting excited about coming back down under and playing to crowds that remind him of home. “There's a linkage there,” Friedman says, “maybe a John Wayne spirit.”

Friedman says Australians are very similar to Texans, and loves Aussies for their honest and non-pretentious personalities. With three shows in Sydney, one in Brisbane, and two in Melbourne Friedman says he's looking forward to kicking off his tour with something that isn't too strenuous.

The Australian leg of his upcoming tour is set to be much tamer when compared to Germany, which consists of 17 consecutive shows, no nights off, and a country with a history that has inspired many of his songs. “As you may know, the Germans are my second favourite people. My first is everybody else,” he says, laughing loudly.

Friedman says that even his German fans like that joke, and, despite the content of some of his songs, they know and relate to every word. “They have an interesting emotional history, the younger Germans do,” he says. “So they identify with something like 'Ride 'Em Jewboy'.”

As a tribute to the victims of the Holocaust, that song has not only captivated audiences in Germany. In 1996 during a trip through South Africa, Friedman learned that his song had also made its way into the hands of one of his biggest idols, Nelson Mandela. “He listened to the song on a smuggled cassette tape every night when he was on Robin Island, in prison there for 17 years,” Friedman says, sounding awestruck. “He listened to that song every night for the last three years of that.”


When Friedman had the opportunity to meet Mandela's righthand man (and prison neighbour), Tokyo Sexwale, he never considered that his song could have reached Robin Island. Sexwale told Friedman that he could hear Mandela play the song every night. Friedman believes Mandela was so connected to the song because the only law firm that took Mandela on before his stay in prison was Jewish. “Those were the last colleagues that he had, before he went to prison,” he says.

Sexwale told Friedman that 'Ride Em Jewboy' had become a kind of mantra for Mandela. This single achievement has reaffirmed Friedman's music and his journey in life. “If I had my choice between some kind of an entertainer that makes millions of dollars a year and plays in stadiums all over the country or if I knew that I could be the guy that had written a song that Nelson Mandela listened to in his prison cell every night, I’d be that guy,” Friedman says, without hesitation.

Friedman believes we need more people like Mandela in the world today, and claims that politicians today lack charisma or any ability to inspire. “The kinds of people that get elected are the kind of people that were hall monitors in school when they were young, and they’re kind of like used car salesmen – they’re crooked before they start,” he says.

“That's why I've always said, if musicians ran the country, or the world, instead of politicians it would be a much better place. We wouldn’t get a hell of a lot done in the morning, but we'd work late and we'd be honest.”

Although Friedman has been actively involved in politics, even running for office in 2006, he says political correctness has ruined politics and his chances of getting into office. “I'm not doing politics any more, I'm doing everything else,” he says, laughing.

And he's not kidding, Friedman runs a never-kill rescue ranch in Texas, alongside his novels and undying passion for music. Fans worldwide continue to connect to Friedman's music because he likes to write songs that make you think, and people just don't make music like that any more. “You may remember those songs for a life time, but that's not what's coming out of ‘American Idol’ right now,” Friedman says. “Country music is gone.”

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Friedman believes there hasn't been a good song written in Nashville since Willy got out back in 1971. He says Nashville used to have great writers writing great songs, but since those glory days everything that comes out of there sounds the same and very derivative. “In Hollywood and in politics, everything is kind of deteriorating,” he says.

Although Friedman would never go back into politics, he loves continuing to influence and connect to people through his music. But he doesn’t want to sell-out stadiums. “I strive to emulate the significant people, not Justin Bieber – he's not going to be a hero, if they don't find him under a bridge one day, he's only going to be a very rich guy – and even he knows that,” Friedman says.

“There’s a difference between being important and being significant.”

Kinky Friedman Tour Dates

16-18 Jan - The Vanguard (Sydney)
22 Jan - New Globe Theatre (Brisbane)
23-24 Jan - Oakleigh-Carnegie RSL Club (Melbourne)

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