“Karen Jones was just 15, could a been homecoming queen/ but she had a child and she lived at the Salvation Army/ now she has a thrift store of her own/ raising money for folks without a home/ too bad she'll never find a home for me.” - Resurrection - Kinky Friedman.

When singing Texan crime novelist Kinky Friedman, now 75, recorded his 18 th album Resurrection he chose an older duet partner Shotgun Willie Nelson, who turns 87, on April 29.

The duo promoted their duet with a vivid video that depicted their road resurrection that ended at Willie's movie town Luck outside Austin.

They visited Luck for time travel that honoured late family and friends including Kinky's dad Dr Thomas and his mother Minnie who operated historic Echo Hill vacation ranch at Medina near Kerrville.

Kinky opens his song with a tribute to friend Karen Jones - president of SYV Opportunity Shop in Santa Ynez , California , that started during World War II in Buellton as a “canteen” for soldiers.

When it reincorporated in 2010 its mission was helping veterans and other worthy causes including thousands of dollars in scholarships to local high school students.

Karen ran away from home as a teenager after a sexual assault made her pregnant but resurrected herself to help others.

“In getting to know Karen over the years, she was the epitome of resurrection,” Kinky revealed.

“Unfortunately, all the other people I sing about in the song are dead, and in some way I wanted to resurrect and make this tribute to them, and Karen because she is a veteran soul and a great person in my life.”

Kinky also honoured actor Tom Baker who died at 42 on September 2, 1982, and starred in Andy Warhol film I, A Man (1967) and was close friend of Jim Morrison of The Doors.

He was portrayed by actor Michael Madsen in Oliver Stone film The Doors (1991) and by Bill Sage in the film about Valerie Solanas, I Shot Andy Warhol (1996).

Kinky dedicated his novel Elvis, Jesus & Coca-Cola to his friend Baker - the book plot features Tom's wake.

The Kinkster wrote Road-Kill - one of his 27 crime novels - about murders on and near Willie's famed bus Honeysuckle Rose.

Willie has released more than 100 CDS and DVDS, appeared in 50 movies, telemovies and TV shows and won his 14th Grammy in February for his latest album Ride Me Back Home.

“Willie's my psychiatrist,” Kinky revealed.

“Willie called me at about 3 in the morning and said, ‘what are you doing?' I said, ‘I'm watching Matlock. ' Willie said, ‘well that's a sure sign of depression. Turn that off and start writing, Kinky.'”

The Kinkster wrote all 11 songs on this album including four with Doc Elliott.

It's released five years after his 2015 disc The Loneliness Man I Ever Met and two years after Circus Of Life - his first album of original songs in 40 years - in 2018.

Circus of Life was more of an intellectual's record,” Friedman revealed.

“I mean, I hate intellectuals, but I am one, some of the time. Circus of Life was destined never to be played on the radio, but this one may actually be a financial pleasure. Then again, the really great songwriters are destined to live in a gutter. I think a lot of people are going to hear this record, and that will make the Kinkster very happy, or, I should say, will make the Kinkster barely happy. You can do something great, but just to get it played on the radio, well, that was Bob Dylan's original goal, and I guess it's mine as well. This is the best shot at that happening.”


“When he dived off Robben Island he never looked back at that evil place/ he looked to the sea and he looked to the mountains/ with a beatific smile on his face/ they tried to break him in that awful prison/ but he held his ground without blinking twice/ he looked to Gandhi and he looked to Jesus/ he was a walking, talking sacrifice/ 30 years of rags and prison shoes/ he paid a whole nation's dues/ he lost everything that a man could lose/ everything but Mandela's Blues .” - Mandela's Blues - Kinky Friedman.

The Kinkster honours another Nelson - Mandela - in vibrant entrée song Mandela's Blues.

It was inspired by a chance meeting with Mosima Gabriel “ Tokyo ” Sexwale - an anti-apartheid activist, while Friedman was on a book tour of South Africa.

Sexwale regaled him with the story of how Nelson Mandela, who occupied the next cell while they were imprisoned on Robben Island, played Friedman classic Ride 'em Jewboy every night for three years straight.

Friedman returns the love here to a real leader of a nation willing to sacrifice for the greater good.

Mandela died at 95 on December 5, 2013, after his historic post prison career that included being first President of South Africa from May 10, 1994-June 16, 1999, and a Nobel Peace Prize.

Although the Kinkster and Willie have enjoyed longevity despite diverse health battles their multi-instrumentalist producer Larry Campbell was not so lucky.

Sadly, he was diagnosed with Coronavirus late in March.

That was after playing acoustic and electric guitar, mandolin, fiddle, pedal steel, dobro and piano and added backing vocals to the album that features former Little Feat pianist Bill Payne, drummer Dennis McDermott and bassist Lincoln Schleifer.

Campbell , now 65, was a member of Bob Dylan's band from 1997-2004 and regular tour partner of the late Levon Helm.

He also played on the 2010 self-titled album by Whitey Morgan and the 78's and others by Willie, Rosanne Cash, K.D. Lang, Buddy and Julie Miller, Emmylou Harris, Black Crowes, Judy Collins, Lucy Kaplansky, Richard Shindell, Linda Thompson, Sheryl Crow, Chris Castle, Paul Simon, B. B. King, Eric Andersen, Little Feat, Hot Tuna , Cyndi Lauper, k.d. lang, Anastasia Barzee, and Ay?, among others.

Campbell produced Helm's two Grammy-winning albums, Dirt Farmer and Electric Dirt and was musical director for Levon's Midnight Ramble concerts and many Broadway live shows.

His illness was revealed by his wife and frequent collaborator Teresa Williams.

“Larry tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday. If you didn't know anybody who has it now you do,” Teresa told fans on March 24, explaining that Larry was quarantined in Upstate New York, while she has been told to stay in New York City.

“He's really too sick for him to receive phone calls and texts there at the house. He's about the same sadly. But I'm hoping it's going to be turning up soon. The nurse came out to see him today, and they're going to be calling him every day. Thanks for all the love and outpouring of support. I just can't even express how great the support is.”

New York City born Larry was a bridge between the city's country and folk scene in the 70's and 80's and performed regularly at Texas-themed Lone Star Cafe - also a launch pad for concerts and source of novels by The Kinkster.

He was a member of The Woodstock Mountains Revue and in 2008 he was honoured by the American Music Association with the Lifetime Achievement Award as an instrumentalist.


“As you walk down music row you won't find Billy Joe/ it's lost a little soul/ dear Hazel it's a shame, she gave them all a name/ now they all sound the same/ down the lonely hall once walked the great Tompall/ the one who started it all/ Kacey Jones isn't here/ let's pour another beer/ the cranes block out the sky/ a piece of Nashville died/ yesterday's gone but me and Billy Swan are trying to write a song.” - Me & Billy Swan - Kinky Friedman-Doc Elliott

The Kinkster also honours pioneers of Nashville seventies outlaw movement in evocative time travel in Me & Billy Swan.

On one of Kinky's Australian tours he appeared at the Old Greek Theatre in Richmond with Swan who was here as band leader for singing actor Harry Dean Stanton.

Swan, now 77, was a one-time member of Kinky's Texas Jewboys.

It's natural he included Me & Billy Swan that name-checks fellow Texan and Australian tour partner Billy Joe Shaver on this album.

The Kinkster laments passing of his friends and legends Billie Jo Spears, Tompall Glaser, Hazel Smith, Kasey Jones, and beloved Nashville DJ Captain Midnight.

They would meet at Tompall's studio where the outlaw movement earned its name from Hazel with Waylon, Willie and the posse.

Kinky sings how he understands Nashville won't remember them - or him - after they're gone.

Me & Billy Swan is significant because it's the only song written about outlaw country icons that doesn't mention Willie Nelson or Waylon Jennings.

“That's pretty hard to do,” Kinky quipped.

“You won't find many people who will attempt to do that.”


“There was a little bitty boy in Greater Cincinnati / standing at the window waiting for his daddy/ but daddy ain't coming home/ daddy he was born to roam/ with a bottle in the back seat of a chauffeur driven Caddy.” - Greater Cincinnati - Kinky Friedman-Doc Elliott.

The Kinkster explores paternal wanderlust in the rollicking Greater Cincinnati - on Hank Williams travels and travails.

He sings of a troubadour who leaves his son at home while he works on the road, leaving a face at the window yearning his return.

“There's a song in the new batch called Greater Cincinnati ,” Kinky revealed.

“The song really is about Hank Williams' last stray thoughts, the night he died.” That song is one to watch for. It may be the masterpiece of the bunch.”

Equally evocative is Carryin' The Torch, replete with Statue of Liberty metaphor for waiting lovers.

The Kinkster injects pained passion into I Love You When It Rains and The Bridge That Wouldn't Burn and homeless homage Blind Kinky Friedman.

Blind Kinky Friedman originated from a performance he did in Chicago where he was wearing what appeared to be a blind person's sunglasses.

“I thought, what if there is a guy called Blind Kinky Friedman,” Friedman recalled.

“And then I realised that there is. It's me, and it's all the mistakes I've made in my life, all he regrets, all the women that I loved that I deliberately let slip through my fingers, all the animals that I loved that are gone. They're like silent witnesses. That's how I wrote that whole record, acknowledging a former sweetheart or a lost cat. That's who I was writing to. It's a tip of the hat to a lot of people. It's a tribute to my folks, the outlaws who didn't quite make it, the troublemakers who stirred the pot.”


“Goodbye Mr P, you meant the world to me/ but you just can't keep an old dog from running off to die/ goodbye Mr P, there was always you and me/ now you are my dog in the sky/ now you're safe, my little friend, until we meet again/ across the bridge where skies are always blue/ and I believe when we die there's a dog up in the sky and l believe my precious one that do is you.” - A Dog In The Sky - Kinky Friedman.

Tex-Mex torment A!! Mariachi is followed by A Dog In The Sky - inspired by death of one of Kinky's canine companions.

"So a lot of this is also cathartic for me," Kinky says of his new songs.

"I did not intend to think of the famous and dead people in my phone book and write a song about them. A Dog in the Sky was written out of sheer grief, because that was one of the loneliest years of my life. A Dog in the Sky was written in the heartbreaking aftermath of my dog Mr. P's losing fight with a coyote. I had never had a dog like him before that was just like my shadow. That broke my heart. I don't like to play favourites, but he really became my best friend. He was my constant companion.

“Will Rogers once said, ‘If dogs don't go to heaven, I want to go to the place they went.'”

Kinky ends on a high with joyous finale Spirit Dad where he masters mood swings and melancholia.

He sings of a young girl who never knew her father and reached out to the Kinkster to be her spirit dad and how she becomes the daughter he never had.

But he is not alone when he awakes on his Echo Hill retreat he shares with his six dogs - the last of the thousands he saved and adopted out from his Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch.

The Kinkster is indebted to Willie's support for aiding his longevity.

“I didn't want the duet to be obvious,” Kinky said of their collaboration.

“We wanted the effect of a dream sequence, harmonies like Cisco Houston and Woody Guthrie singing on the road together. I like the fact that you can hear Willie, but you don't know that it's Willie. You might think I'm too old, to be out playing on the road, instead of staying at home where I belong. You might think that it ain't right, to be out driving half the night' The song was written with Willie in mind and three adult American men have told me it made them cry.

“The older you get, the harder it is to be creative, unless you're Willie. He's bullet proof. Once you get past Jesus's age, it's all downhill. Sometimes I feel like I'm 80, sometimes like a teenager, but doing 28 shows in a row at 74 is rough. Luckily, the reviews of the album have been stunning. People love this record. If this was done 30 years ago, maybe there would be some big country hits on it, but all we can deal with is what's out there and may the Lord take a liking to you and see you down the highway.”

top / back to diary