by: David Downs
Poet-philosopher and outlaw country music legend Willie Nelson released memoir Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die Nov. 13 in hardcover. The breezy, funny chapbook mixes never-before-heard stories, life lessons, and loads of jokes; with a foreword by author, singer, and cult provocateur Kinky Friedman.
An author of 35 books himself, Kinky took a few minutes to chat with Smell the Truth via phone from his ranch in Texas, where he was preparing for the second phase of his Bi-Polar Tour, which starts Nov. 30 in Kansas City, MO. and ends Dec. 20 in Eugene, OR.
Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die began as a co-writing project with Willie, Kinky says, but Nelson’s editor wanted one star, and Willie didn’t want an editor at all.
“The editor only wanted one voice, then Willie says ‘I’m not going to write it if you’re not going to write it’. It was like Tom Sawyer painting a fence. I had to write 27,000 words of which the foreword is all that survived.
“But that title makes sense and is brilliant and a great statement,” Friedman says. “The book gives you some insights into Willie’s actual mind, which are always interesting and diverting and funny and enlightening. It’s music. It’s jokes. It’s a story about farting on an airplane – things like that. And it’s kind of where he is today.
“He is pushing 80 and he was concerned about his mortality – as anybody would be,” Friedman said. “God knows how you feel at that age. Most of Willie’s friends and contemporaries are dead. He’s got some real wisdom.”
“Something about what he is doing is working. He is really honestly connecting with people in a way that’s different than most artists or entertainers. Everybody thinks that they’re Willie’s friend and that’s true, from the doorman, to the guy loading the garbage truck. I’ve been around with Dylan. People are in awe of Bob Dylan, but they certainly don’t come over and say, ‘Hey, Bob, how are you? My name’s Bill.’ And it’s a good thing they don’t.”
Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die is easy to pick up and put down, making it great light reading over the holiday vacation. Here’s Nelson:
“Work out, work out, and work out.”
on drug legalization:
“Addiction should be treated as a disease.”
and on President Obama:
“I think that once you become President, the first thing you realize is that you can’t do shit.”
Friedman shares Nelson’s point of view on legalized pot, saying “we got prisons full of people that shouldn’t be there, meanwhile all the pedophiles and politicians run around free.”
And Friedman echoes Nelson’s contempt for corporate Nashville country music.
“Somebody is recording this shit and somebody is listening to it, I guess, and it must be making money, but I can’t think of any classics, anything great that have been written in the past 30 years in Nashville,” Friedman says.Like the book, Friedman’s Bi-Polar tour – which pulls into San Francisco Dec. 18– mixes songs, stories, jokes, and politics. Friedman says exploring another run for Governor of Texas.
“I think we really got a good shot at it. It’s a giant step down from musician to politician and I would only take it for Texas.”
Friedman’s also hawking a new solo CD, Live From Woodstock, a new tequila Kinky Friedman’s Man in Black Tequila, and branded cigar the Kinky Cristo. The music, the tequila, and the cigar all pack Kinky’s trademark punch and sting.
“It’s something that really got to zing for me to feel it,” he said. “We’re a homogenized, sanitized, trivialized culture already. I only have two tastebuds left but they are having a hell of a party.”