Music

Premiere: Kinky Friedman Memorializes a Famous Fan with 'Mandela's Blues'

Issy Drinkall

Kinky Friedman's reflective new album Resurrection, out Oct. 25, relies more on heart than humor, as heard on "Mandela's Blues," a tribute to one of the Kinkster's biggest fans.

The peppy, tropical Tex-Mex tune tells the story of former South African president Nelson Mandela, a world-renown man of character and a noted fan of Friedman, Dolly Parton and other classic country artists.

"After thirty years in prison, inspired by Gandhi and Jesus, Nelson Mandela walked out of Robben Island a free man," Friedman tells Wide Open Country. "He became a savior to his country.  South Africa could use him now.  For that matter, so could we."

The song should draw more eyes to Friedman's often-told story about Mandela's mix tape selection while imprisoned for revolutionary activity.

"Chuck Glaser, Tompall's brother who produced my first record Sold American (in Nashville) in 1973, told me that once you record it, you never know who's going to hear it," Friedman told Wide Open Country last year. "That's when the Nelson Mandela incident happened. It wasn't an incident. It stretched over several years, with Mandela playing this song 'Ride 'Em Jewboy' on a smuggled tape cassette in his prison cell on Robben Island. When I learned a little more about that, I was in South Africa on a book tour for God Bless John Wayne, and I was just thinking this is a much bigger thing than being nominated for a Grammy. This is a real award that I got by virtue of country music."

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Resurrection was produced by Grammy-winning multi-instrumentalist and former Bob Dylan band mate Larry Campbell. Fellow Texas country legend Willie Nelson appears on the title track, and up-and-coming singer-songwriter Doc Elliot co-wrote four of the album's 11 new songs.

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Premiere: Kinky Friedman Memorializes a Famous Fan with 'Mandela's Blues'