Album Review

Various Artists - Why The Hell Not: The Songs Of Kinky Friedman

Various Artists - Why The Hell Not: The Songs Of Kinky Friedman

Long before he became a candidate for Governor of Texas, a mystery writer, and a Will Rogers for his times, Kinky Friedman was leader of the Texas Jewboys, a band that pretty much existed for one great album. They were outrageous, brilliant and exciting on first listen; the second time, maybe not so much.

What was lost in the buzz was that Kinky wrote some great and memorable songs when he put his mind to it, and I don't just mean "Get Your Biscuits In The Oven (And Your Buns In The Bed)", admirably covered here by contemporary Texas redneck Kevin Fowler.

The interpretations on Why The Hell Not back up the argument. "Sold American" was visionary in its foresight of where business and government were headed 30 years beforehand, and is delivered with an overriding sense of sadness by Lyle Lovett. Delbert McClinton interprets "Autograph" in a soulful, insightful manner that made me reconsider dismissing the song when Kinky sang it. And Willie Nelson's version of "Ride 'Em Jewboy" takes religion out of the proposition, evoking a kind of disappearing railroad sadness that follows a cowboy riding into the sunset.

As a body of work, may this tribute compel Kinky to consider songwriting as worthy a pursuit as the dreams he's chasing these days.