Kinky Friedman – The Loneliest Man I Never Met

kinky 1

Kinky Friedman
The Loneliest Man I Never Met
Avenue A/Thirty Tigers

Classic Album from an All-American Classic

I have to hold my hands up and say I’ve never been a fan of The Kinkster; finding his humour a bit too raw for my tastes and his songs too avant-garde.
So when this arrived I was spectacularly underwhelmed and stuck it in the to-do pile; almost forgetting about it until (as fate dictates) a random track popped up on my I-player.
That song was an almost note for note rendition of Tom Waits A Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis. The tune is note for note; but Kinky’s vocal presentation is slow and clear; meaning I can finally make out the words and story to one of my favourite songs. To say I was impressed would be a huge understatement! I instantly fell in love and pulled the car over so I could play the album in all its glory.
The album opens with Friedman duetting with Willie Nelson on the latter’s Bloody Mary Morning; and they create a rare thing of fragile beauty with only words and simple guitar strumming.
Next is ‘Christmas Card’ and the mood is cast, with Kinky Friedman releasing his first album in 39 years (yes THIRTY NINE) and using all of the knowledge of life he’s gathered to gently breathe new life into a few of his favourite songs and include a few of his own from the back of the drawer.
This album is nothing at all like Cash’s American series, apart from a man being at the tail end of a life singing songs for a brand new audience.
The title track sat gathering dust for 20 years; now finds Kinky narrating a story of a man staring death in the face; with no friends around him but still manages to squeeze a certain romanticism out of a very dark situation. Not many people can do that and I’m glad I’ve heard a Master at work.
I’m not normally a fan of profanity in music; but as a man of a ‘certain age myself’ going through my own medical issues; I punched the air when I first realised what Warren Zevon’s My Shit’s Fucked Up! was about then stuck it on repeat and played it damn loud for a solid half hour that first day. Kinky says its a commentary on the world we find ourselves in; but if you are over 50 and visit the bathroom in the middle of the night; you will play it loud too.
Accompanying himself on guitar and a doleful violin in the background, Kinky revisits Wild Man of Borneo and he drags the words out making it raw to the bone; but increasingly more and more beauteous the more I hear it.
I’ve got a few versions of Merle singing Mama’s Hungry Eyes and each has its own merits; but Kinky’s slow drawl and haunting harmonica could easily be a death bed poem; and will send shivers up your spine the first time you hear it.
Fate played an odd hand here too. A week before I received the album I was talking to a friend about songs from our childhood and I selected one he’d never heard of; yet with hindsight it could be a song that formed the template for my left-field outlook on music; then by sheer fortune it turns up here. As a child whenever Lee Marvin appeared on the radio singing (?) Wandrin’ Star my Dad would harrumph and try to turn it off; but I persisted and received a copy for my 10th birthday. Just like ‘Christmas Card’ Kinky manages to find something new and fresh in his extraordinary delivery and who’s going to deny me the opportunity to listen to song and think of my long departed Dad?
There’s not a bad song here although some are better than others; but all mean something to the Governor of the Heart of Texas and will mean something different to each listener; but is best heard as a complete album; and I defy Roots/Americana fans over the age of 50 to listen and not have tears in their eyes at one time or another.

http://www.kinkyfriedman.com/

Released October 1st 2015

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