Kinky Friedman talks politics and satire

Consider Kinky Friedman the bizarro Bob Dylan. He's a Midwestern-born folk hero, steeped in country traditions and gifted with maddening powers of language and wit. The novelist, satirist, songwriter and failed politician made his mark in the '70s with recordings like "They Ain't Makin' Jews Like Jesus Anymore." He's got a bottomless well of one-liners he taps like a modern-day, cigar-chomping Will Rogers, and after decades away from St. Louis, the Kinkster returns for a concert and reading this week. On the phone from his ranch in Kerrville, Texas, he gave B-Sides a verbal tour of his home life, politics and always sui generis satirical vision.

B-Sides: What's a typical morning like on the ranch?

Kinky Friedman: Well, [cough] let me get my dog's tongue out of my throat. My dogs, they'll jump on my scrotum and bounce off on their way, and the day begins. It's peaceful, bucolic, the opposite of being on the road. It gives me a nice balance. It's a rather lonely, monastic life, but for most writers and artists happiness isn't a priority.

Kinky Friedman hasn't lost his edge.
Nicole Weingart
Kinky Friedman hasn't lost his edge.

Location Info

Map

Off Broadway

3509 Lemp Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63118

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: St. Louis - South City

Details

Kinky Friedman
8 p.m. Friday, April 29. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Avenue.
21-plus: $25. Under 21: $28. 314-773-3363.

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Is there anything off-limits for a satirist?

Probably not. Being a musician is a much higher calling than being a politician. I was never a politician, but I ran for governor of Texas as an independent. I was only the second candidate in the history of Texas to even get on the ballot as an independent. In politics, just about everything that can be misconstrued is. So you're screwed. You can't explain satire. You can't even explain what being an artist is. An artist is anyone who is ahead of his time and behind on his rent. But an artist is not understood by the mainstream public. If you go through Kinky's books and songs, the first thing you run into is the word "nigger" and "They Ain't Makin' Jews Like Jesus Anymore." So Kinky is a racist. But the song is an anthem against bigotry. And if you go through the books, you find all kinds of outrageous stuff. And that's what they did. Some of that is aided by political correctness, which has had an impact on America. If I were managing a young Richard Pryor or George Carlin, we wouldn't make it. We'd lose too many sponsors and the Al Sharpton types.

We live in a world that teems with racism and phobias and uptightness. But you bring that to the surface. You cause people to think about it and laugh, if they're willing.

It's quite different from Barry Manilow. I was thinking about how successful he has been. I don't know the guy. He writes songs that make you feel good for a short period of time. I try to write songs that make you think, and maybe they'll last longer. I can't expect to have a string of number-one hits with songs like "Asshole From El Paso" or "Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in Bed." In truth, Roy, they've kind of obscured my other stuff, songs that could have been hits. But we'll do 'em all in St. Louis.

 
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