Although I'm not a big fan of country music, I do enjoy a few who transcend the genre: Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, and of course, Kinky Friedman and his Texas Jewboys. This CD is a special tribute by some of country music’s top performers to an American icon. Stars such as Dwight Yoakam, Charlie Robison, and Asleep At The Wheel strip away the sarcasm and fun-loving wit that is Kinky Friedman. These singers put their own twist to the music of a man they admire.
Kevin Fowler starts off the set with "Get Your Biscuits in the Oven" which is Kinky's take on the whole women’s liberation movement, or at least it’s what Kinky is telling his old lady. Fowler with his rough gravelly voice gives the song a deep southern fried sound that comes from heartland of the U.S.A. Lyle Lovett croons one of Kinky’s greatest tunes, “Sold American”. It’s the story of how the American economy and public have been sold off to the highest bidder; our capitalist ways cause us to sell ourselves out to the rest of the world. If you offer an American the right price, they'll sell it. Lovett's haunting voice turns the tune into a song of sorrow, and of warning.
My two favorite songs by Kinky are included. The first, sung by Todd Snider, is "They Ain't Makin' Jews Like Jesus Anymore", which tells the sad tale of a redneck getting his ass kicked by our favorite Texas Jewboy. Snider nails it as he rumbles us through one of Kinky's more explosive adventures. It's also the most politically charged of all the tracks on this disk. Since Kinky is running for governor of Texas, I can guess Snider will be voting for Kinky. That is, if he lives in Texas.
My other favorite song on this CD is "Ride Em' Jewboy" sung by none other than the aformentioned Willie Nelson. With Willie's voice and that slide guitar, Western swing is here to stay. Willie's style, along with the small band feel, gives you that sense of being in one of those lone truck stops out along the Texas desert, drinkin' bad coffee and bummin' cigarettes from Flo the waitress.
All the tracks on this disk depict what Kinky's America looks like. Seen through the eyes of other stars, such as Delbert McClinton, who sings "Autograph", and Jason Boland & The Stragglers, who lend their talents to "The Gospel According to John", it's obvious these singers, at some point in their lives or careers, have been touched by Kinky and his music.
This tribute album to Kinky does the man justice. These songs, refreshed by these talented people, still provide an insightful view of a man who loves this country and the people who make it their home. With fun-loving cynicism and an artful way to bring about real American feelings, Why The Hell Not?… is a testament to the character and stature of Kinky Friedman.
Written by Fumo Verde