"We don't have no love-in's in El Paso/we don't go to porno picture shows/we don't swap our wives with our neighbours/and we keep our kids away from Mexico." - Asshole From El Paso - Chinga Chavin-Kenny Snakebite Jacobs.

When singing Texan crime novelist Kinky Friedman named his third album Asshole From El Paso he had one small problem - the late Buck Owens.

Buck owned the publishing of Californian convict country legend Merle Haggard who wrote Okie from Muscogee - the song that the Kinkster parodied.

"It flew right over Buck's head and he injuncted me," Kinky, now 61, told me in an interview at his Echo Hill ranch near Medina in the Texas hill country in 1983.

"Most things flew over Buck's head back then. So we changed the name of the album to Lasso From El Paso. We had to change the art work and drop the song."

The Kinkster claimed five times wed legend Haggard, now 68, had no objection to his song being parodied.

"It was Buck's publishing company that was the unconscious objector," Kinky said of a drama that raged for the rest of the decade.

And Kinky ignited it again when he belatedly released the live cut of the parody from a Houston gig on Bob Dylan's 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue tour.


"And I'm proud to be an asshole from El Paso/a place where sweet young virgins are deflowered/you walk down the street knee-deep in tacos/Ta-ta-ta-tacos/ and wetbacks still get twenty cents an hour." - Asshole From El Paso.

The tour featured Dylan's star-studded band and vast galaxy of characters including Robbie Robertson, Joan Baez, Ronnie Blakely, Joni Mitchell, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Arlo Guthrie, Bob Neuwirth and Tom Pacheco.

Friedman wrote the foreword to the reprint of the 1978 book On The Road With Bob Dylan - Rolling With The Thunder by Larry Ratso Sloman - a prominent character in his 20 crime novels.

Ratso Sloman, former Rolling Stone journalist and long time editor of High Times magazine and other counter culture journals, never lived down to the family name.

Sloman should not be mistaken for Washington Ratso - another character in Kinky novels - who toured here with The Kinkster and Billy Joe Shaver in 2002.

That Ratso also earns bigger bucks as a CNN cameraman in diverse war zones when not picking and grinning for his supper on international tours and local battlefields of love and honour.

Kinky and Billy Joe's combo were frequently joined on stage at Australian gigs for nocturnal mooning of audiences by tour manager Ben and female entourage members.

The stage props, an opaque and occasionally transparent Perspex sheet adorned with Lone Star State flags borrowed from my Texas curio library during my stint as a tour chauffeur, were a big hit with audiences.

And, of course, essential visual marketing tool for the Asshole From El Paso cameo in the absence of a video clip from the archives.

They were the first props to be delivered to gigs and the last to leave in a vast cast of instruments, booze and apparel of the western kind.


"We don't wipe our asses on old glory/ God and lone star beer are things we trust/we keep our women virgins till they're married/so hosin' sheep is good enough for us." - Asshole From El Paso.

Although Asshole From El Paso bit the dust on the Kinky album neutered by Buck it didn't lose its soul, so to speak, on the amended artwork.

The Lasso From El Paso front cover featured instead a parody of the Camel cigarettes logo with The Kinkster riding a camel not unlike Clyde who earned infamy in the Ray Stevens hit Ahab The Arab.

Stevens' hit, featuring a cameo by Little Jewford, graced the album that also featured Kinky's poignant classic Sold American, also cut by Glen Campbell and Lyle Lovett.

The back cover featured a gaudy illustration of an exotic Egyptian temple replete with Star Of David atop Kinky's Kosher Deli signage.

Also prominent was Men's Room LA - a tune whose live version featured Ringo Starr playing the vocal part of Jesus Christ offering sanitary and spiritual advice.

A live version of the Ringo adorned song also appeared with Asshole From El Paso on bootlegs of the song down the years.

More recent Asshole From El Paso versions appeared on Old Testaments & New Revelations (Fruit Of The Tune Music) - 1992 - and Kinky Friedman and Billy Joe Shaver Live Down Under (Sphincter) - 2002.

Lasso From El Paso, produced by Kinky and infamous Raging Cajun convict Huey Meaux, was released in 1978 on CBS.

Meaux, now 77, discovered the late Freddy Fender and Doug Sahm, but was jailed in the late nineties on child sex and porn charges.

The album featured a galaxy of guitarists including T-Bone Burnett, Mick Ronson, Ron Wood and Steve Soles.

Eric Clapton played dobro, Rick Danko (bass-drums,) Levon Helm on guitar, Richard Manuel (drums-keyboards,) Dr John-Little Jewford (piano,) Rusty Young and Dave Mansfield (pedal steel,) Roger McGuinn (banjo) and Ronnie Hawkins-Bob Neuwirth on harmonies.

Celebrities were no strangers to Kinky albums - Shotgun Willie Nelson produced his self-titled 1974 album with guests including Willie & Waylon, Tompall Glaser, Billy Swan and Panama Red.

The Glaser Brothers, Norman Blake, John Hartford and Buddy Spicher (fiddles) and Paul Craft (banjo) also appeared on the Chuck Glaser produced Kinky debut disc Sold American in 1973.


"We don't smoke marijuana in Muscogee/ We don't take our trips on LSD/ We don't burn our draft cards down on Main Street/ We like livin' right, and bein' free." - Okie From Muscogee - Merle Haggard.

Kinky Friedman & Billy Joe Shaver
The oft-recorded Asshole From El Paso was a huge hit on Kinky's 2002 Australian tour with Billy Joe Shaver, Little Jewford, Washington Ratso and late Jesse 'Guitar' Taylor.

But it didn't appear on the Kacey Jones produced Kinky Friedman disc Pearls In The Snow (Kinkajou) - 1998.

That disc featured artists diverse as fellow Texans Willie Nelson, Delbert McClinton, Guy Clark, Asleep At The Wheel, Lyle Lovett, Geezinslaw Brothers, former Texas Jewboy Lee Roy Parnell, Kentucky born Dwight Yoakam and Mississippi minstrel Marty Stuart.

Jones, a prolific writer, recording artist and comedienne, told Nu Country the much-publicised bid by Kinky to become Governor of Texas was in overdrive with Aussie touring partner Shaver as spiritual adviser.

"The Kinkster continues to garner support in his bid for Governor of Texas," Kacey wrote in a recent email after the death of Taylor at 55.

"A recent CMT television special brought a lot of new followers into the Kinky
Klan. It looks as if he'll have no problem getting his name officially added to the ballot."


Meanwhile Jones, who first scored headlines with her eighties band Ethel & The Shameless Hussies, has recorded a Mickey Newbury tribute disc.

Newbury died at 62 on September 29, 2002, after having more than 400 artists cut about 550 recordings of his evocative songs.

Mickey toured Australia in the eighties and played the famed acoustic venue The Troubadour in Fitzroy and was survived by his wife of 33 years and five children.

Newbury died of a chronic respiratory illness at his home in rural Oregon.

"My new CD, Kacey Jones Sings Mickey Newbury will be released nationally on August 1st complete with liner notes by Kris Kristofferson, Robert K. Oermann, Chet Flippo, and Ron Lyons," Jones revealed.

"We just finished shooting the music video for debut single, San Francisco Mabel Joy.

Kristofferson is in my music video! Waylon Payne is also in it - he's the son of the late Sammi Smith and Jody Payne (Willie's guitar player). Waylon portrayed Jerry Lee Lewis in the hit film Walk the Line."

Major artists who recorded Newbury songs included Don Gibson (12 cuts), Waylon Jennings (eight), Kenny Rogers (six), Johnny Rodriguez (five), Roy Orbison and Jerry Lee Lewis (four each.)

Many of country's leading female artists also cut his songs - they included Tammy Wynette, Sammi Smith, Brenda Lee and Lynn Anderson.

Plenty of his contemporaries who also became legendary songwriters covered him: Willie Nelson, Bobby Bare, Kris Kristofferson, David Allan Coe and the late Roger Miller.

Others beyond country covering Newbury songs included Ray Charles, B.B. King, Etta James, Bobby Blue Bland, Alex Chilton, Solomon Burke and Nick Cave.

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