Kinky Friedman: ‘Bob Dylan Wanted to Write an Album's Worth of Songs with Me’
On Thursday night, the B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in New York City hosted a Lone Star Cafe reunion. According to the venue’s website:
“The Lone Star Cafe, the brainchild of Mort Cooperman, was THE joint in New York City for Texas country, rhythm and blues, boogie woogie, rock-a-billy and zydeco music (and almost everything in between). It remained so for the dozen or so years it ruled the city from its perch at the corner of 13th Street and 5th Avenue. Its crown was a forty foot sculpture of an iguana, designed by crazed Texas artist, Bob `Daddy-O' Wade. By the mid-eighties the Lone Star had been designated an official embassy of the state of Texas by the full Texas State Legislature. It may still be the official embassy of Texas.
“The Lone Star was unofficial home of the New York Rangers, the New York Yankees, the Blues Brothers, Larry King, Ann Richards, Levon Helm, Doug Sahm, and Willie Nelson. Even the Hells Angels hung out regularly, always on their best behavior, having been admonished by Willie that he would never play for them, if they caused any trouble at the club. The King Of Spain was a fan of the club. Doc Pomus had a regular seat in the third row of tables, and he never ever missed a good rhythm and blues act. A single seat will be held open at the party for Doc and all the others who won't be there with us (here's to you, Levon and Rick).”
Before the festivities began, many of the musicians playing that evening headed to the local SiriusXM studios to promote the concert on the “Freewheelin’” program, which can be found on the “Road Dog” channel (146). Among the performers who converged on the station were artists associated with Dylan in one way or another: Larry Campbell (Dylan’s former guitarist), Kinky Friedman (Rolling Thunder Revue alumni, L’Chaim - To Life, Telethon ’91), Tony Garnier (Dylan’s bassist), Michael Simmons (MOJO Magazine, liner notes for “Another Self Portrait” ), Larry “Ratso” Sloman (Author, “On the Road with Bob Dylan”). Also along for the ride was former Mountain drummer, Corky Laing.
The lineup for the evening also included Austin Music Hall Of Famers Greezy Wheels, Robert Gordon, Commander Cody, Teresa Williams, Dave Keyes, Aztec Two-Step, Carolyn Wonderland, Popa Chubby, George "Frogman" Worthmore, Hank B., Chuck McDermott, Rob Stoner, emcees Jessie Scott and Buddy Fox, and others.
You could tell by listening that there was a very loose atmosphere in the SiriusXM studios, with people talking over one another in a feeling of anarchic bonhomie. The subjects ranged from Campbell’s new album and his work with the late, great, Levon Helm, to the old days of the Lone Star itself. In the second segment, author, singer-songwriter, and self-proclaimed “Texas Jewboy” Kinky Friedman, known for such songs as "They Ain't Makin' Jews Like Jesus Anymore" and "Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in the Bed," was the focus, and he shared a few anecdotes about his experiences with Dylan.
Here are the highlights:
Friedman said he spent six weeks on the island of Yelapa, Mexico, with Dylan and Dennis Hopper in 1976. Dylan wanted to write an album with Friedman at the time, harassing him to do so. Friedman said that since they’d just finished the second leg of the Rolling Thunder Revue tour, he wanted to take it easy. Kinky kept putting it off, and it never happened. “Bob is very practical. He would never have done (what I had),” Friedman said. “If he had been in my position, he would have turned out three albums in Yelapa with the 'big star.'" Friedman said this was a pattern in his career, as he also blew chances to work with Paul Simon and Shel Silverstein.
Cleve, an employee of Friedman’s, talked Kinky into auctioning off Dylan’s Rolling Thunder coat, presumably a gift from Dylan himself. It was a Nudie original, “with Jesus’ head and palm trees” on it, according to Kinky. “We auctioned it off at Christie’s or something like that,” Friedman said, “and the Hard Rock Cafe in Tel Aviv won the deal. That’s where it wound up. But we got 7500 bucks. I told Bob about that later, and he said, ‘Bad move’.” Meaning, it would be “worth a fortune” if he’d kept it.
“The only thing Dylan did that I thought was really cool was … We were on the beach one day. He took his guitar out of his guitar case and started strumming, with almost nobody on the beach. And before you knew it, in the twinkle of an eye, the place was mobbed with people, watching Bob Dylan strumming on his guitar … Then Bob puts his guitar back into his guitar case, says that he really liked it when he played for people just having their dinner … and he can’t do that anymore.”
Friedman had one more story, saying “I think Ratso got this from me. I think it happened to me.” Then Ratso said Friedman appropriated it from him. “The way I tell it is that we were on Southwest Airlines, which has no first class, so we’re with regular people. There was a woman sitting right next to Bob, and she is so excited, saying, ‘I can’t believe it, I’m sitting next to Bob Dylan! I’m sitting next to Bob Dylan! I can’t believe it!’
"And Bob says, ‘Pinch yourself.'”
Friedman said he is about to send his next book, “Hard-Boiled Computer,” to the printers. He also announced his first album in 40 years, The Loneliest Man I Ever Met, with liner notes by Michael Simmons, will be released in October. It features a duet with Willie Nelson on his classic song, “Bloody Mary Morning.” A tour of 31 dates in 31 days will follow.
- Bonus trivia, according to Friedman: Four “Jewboys” (Kinky’s term) were born at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago - Steve Goodman, Shel Silverstein, Warren Zevon, and Friedman. He also added, “That might not be a fact.”
SiriusXM subscribers can listen to the entire interview “On Demand” until August 19. Just look for the “Freewheelin’” listing on the Road Dog channel (Ch. 146), August 13. WARNING: Not for the easily offended.
(C) Harold Lepidus
Also published on my Bob Dylan Examiner column.