Song Of The Day: Kinky Friedman, “Autographs In The Rain (Song For Willie)”

It’s been absolutely too many damn years since last week had an album of all new material from the legendary Texas Jewboy himself, Kinky Friedman. Less of a poet, writer, philosopher, and raconteur, and more of a national treasure (at least in the great nation of Texas), Friedman is well loved because of his unique vision and take on life. Circus Of Life, his latest album, is his first album of all new material in several decades, and it is a stripped-down, raw, minimalist production, not unlike Rick Rubin‘s Johnny Cash productions. But the songs are all Friedman in the raw, no Rick Rubin necessary. The subject matter is Freedman in his natural territory of humorously looking at love, life, sex, and his own foibles and failings. Yet there’s a wistfulness about the proceedings that is inescapable––and that is of age, death, and the reality of living in your twilight years, best heard on the beautiful and poignant album closer, “Sayin’ Goodbye.”

Yet the album’s most beautiful number can be found a few songs earlier. “Autographs In The Rain (Song For Willie)” is a love song to his close friend and colleague, Willie Nelson. The theme is a simple one–Friedman is observing just how he came to know Nelson as being the truth believer and musical lifer that he is after watching Wille, without complaint or hesitation ,going out to meet his fans and sign autographs in the middle of a rainstorm. It’s exactly the recognition of the greater relevance and importance of a simple, blink and you’ll miss it moment that made Friedman a household name and a beloved figure for those in the know. Circus of Life is a superb and sublime return to form for one of the finest writers and philosophers of our time.

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