|THE WEDDING PARTYER
Do I, Kinky Friedman, take tequila-loving country singer Pat Green to be
my friend for life? I do.
Kinky Friedman - Texas Monthly...
THE LAST PLACE YOU'D EXPECT to begin a beautiful friendship with Pat
Green would be at a Jewish wedding in Mexico City. But there he was,
looking like the Jolly Green Giant, trying to open a bottle of tequila
while repeatedly adjusting the yarmulke on his head. It was a strange
sight, all right, but in this modern world, maybe not so strange. Pat
and I, whom some might characterize as wedding guests from hell, had a
mutual friend in the groom, Eddy Levy. Pat knew Eddy through the Texas
music scene as the manager of Honeybrowne, a band he'd often played
with. I knew Eddy and his brother Isaac as little boogers at my family's
summer camp, Echo Hill.
The wedding was at the Four Seasons in Mexico City, one of the
classiest, most lavish hotels in the world. Everywhere you go, there's
the sound of rich people laughing. Pat is talented, intelligent,
fun-loving, and humble, but his appearance can often be described as
that of a big, sloppy Boy Scout with a merit badge in hell-raising-in
other words, not your basic Four Seasons guest. That was fine with me.
Every time I stay at a fancy hotel, some employee always comes up to me
with deep suspicion in his eyes and says, "Can I help you?"
As I was checking in on Friday morning, I could hear a loud, boisterous
voice singing in a ballroom just off the lobby. People were shouting and
laughing in both Spanish and English. My curiosity piqued, I thought I'd
check it out before I checked in. I left my busted valise at the desk
and walked into the ballroom. There I saw a sight I shall not soon
forget: Pat standing stubbornly like a giant statue of an Inca god,
trying to play a serenade on a small guitar he'd "borrowed" from a
determined little mariachi who was attempting to get it back. Like David
and Goliath, the two of them struggled over the instrument, with the
mariachi finally winning.
To smooth over any ill will, Pat proceeded to buy $60 shots of Don Julio
Real tequila for everybody in the place. He bought so many rounds that
the bartenders thought it was his birthday. Later, a large man was seen
mooning people in the Four Seasons courtyard from his second-floor
window. I'm not suggesting that the two events were related, but it's
possible. Of course, after about eight shots of Don Julio Real, the man
could have been me.
The ceremony itself, the following night, was a traditional one,
performed entirely in Spanish and Hebrew, two languages that neither
myself nor Mr. Green Jeans is fluent in. Unaware that a Mexican wedding
party usually starts late and goes until dawn, we drank a good bit more
Don Julio Real before, during, and after the ceremony. By the time Eddy
and his lovely bride, Noa, entered the great hall as husband and wife,
five hundred people were waving silk napkins over their heads, the band
was playing, and Pat was kissing the father of the groom. We drank a lot
more tequila and then were compelled at gunpoint to participate in an
extended series of highly frenetic Jewish folk dances, which resulted in
projectile vomiting and, from Pat, a few drunken words of wisdom.
"The problem with being drunk," he said, "is that you're drunk. And the
problem with being in love is that you're drunk."
"That's pretty good," I said. "It ought to be a song."
"It will be," he said, "if I can just light this cigar."
"How does it feel to be playing your music to a crowd of fifty thousand?"
"It's exactly as cool as you think it is. The only reason they're there
is because I can't put fifty thousand people in my house."
"I know how it feels," I said. "I've played to fifty thousand people
before. Unfortunately, they were there to see Bob Dylan."
"Man, I love Bob Dylan."
"He speaks highly of you. You do appear to be taking your success as it
comes. You're not going to allow yourself to turn into a brand name with
nothing behind it, are you?"
Pat didn't respond directly, or maybe he did. It was hard to tell,
because we were both making serious headway into another bottle of
tequila. This is what my notebook tells me he said: "I've never met a
man who was more or less important than me."
"Why is drinking so much a part of your life and your music?" I asked,
rather rhetorically, as we both killed another shot.
"I don't like drinking songs," he said. "Just songs I can drink to. My
dad says the key to a great love song is to never use the word 'love.'
But back to drinking. Glen Campbell just got caught drinkin' and
drivin'. Now, we're all bad drivers sooner or later. But I'm talkin'
left-your-kid-in-the-truck-stop-bathroom kind of drunk driving. He was
arrested, and when they were taking his picture, he was singing his
greatest hits to the camera. Now that's drunk. I've probably been there
a time or two. But when I'm ready to leave a bar, I always ask myself
the same question: 'Can I puke in a straight line?'"
You couldn't help but like this guy, I thought. He was Pecos Bill from
Texas Tech. He had mastered the art of being himself. Now he was working
to a little larger audience, telling the story of how, in 1995, in
Lubbock, he'd sneaked into Jerry Jeff Walker's dressing room just as the
performer was coming offstage. "Hi, Mr. Walker," Pat said in an
exaggerated drunken slur. "I'm Pat Green. I'm a Texas singer-songwriter.
I've brought my favorite guitar for you to sign."
"What did Jerry Jeff say?" someone asked.
"He said, 'Take your favorite [expletive deleted] guitar and get out of
my [expletive deleted] dressing room.'"
Let the history of Texas music record that Jerry Jeff did sign the young
Later that night, much later, after the room stopped spinning, I thought
about fame. "Death's little sister," Hemingway had called it. Pat seemed
to be handling it very well, indeed. Something his father, Craven Green,
a friend of mine, had once told me came to mind. "His long suit," Craven
had said of his son, "is enjoying life rather than figuring it out."
Craven told me the story of when he and Pat's mother were getting
divorced. He'd bought a little book to explain to his two small boys
that Mommy and Daddy still loved them. When he'd finished reading, both
he and ten-year-old David were very torn up. But six-year-old Pat's
reaction was quite different. He put his arm around his father's neck.
"Hey, Dad," he said, "it's not the end of the world."
July 2004, Texas Monthly
|Pass The Sunscreen --
Kenny Goes Somewhere In The Sun
2005 Tour Takes Redneck Woman Gretchen Wilson, Duet Partner Uncle Kracker &
Texas Icon Pat Green Across The Country In a Beam of Light
Nashville: They'd started talking about it almost before the trucks were
unloaded from his record-setting Guitars. Tiki Bars & A Whole Lot of Love
Tour. And the rumors were flying even when deals weren't done, routing not
sorted out, buildings not even secured . But when you play to 1.2 million
screaming fans over the course of a tour -- second only to funk-rock
sensation Prince, pulling down multiple shows in many cities, then it only
makes sense the people want to know what's going on next year right now.
"It was pretty goofy," says the affable songwriter with an aw shucks laugh.
"We were down in the islands, trying to just shake the road off us from this
year -- and we started hearing that Gretchen Wilson was going on the road
with us, that Uncle Kracker was coming back. I'm kinda surprised that when
Pat Green showed up in Louisville at the fair and came out onstage with us,
people didn't start talking about him, too, just 'cause of waltz across the
stage with Kracker!
"I mean, if you look at all those people, you probably wouldn't logically
put'em in a room together. And maybe you wouldn't think of them as having
that much in common, but they all know how to kick it up a notch and work
that energy with a crowd. When you get down to it, that's what it's all
And now that the deal is done -- or at least, the talent officially sorted
out -- it can be released. For the 2005 Somewhere In The Sun Tour, Kenny
Chesney -- the pride of Luttrell, Tennessee -- will be doing the split-level
approach again this year. 5-time CMA nominee and double platinum sensation
Gretchen Wilson will have the middle slot for the entire tour. Fellow CMA
Vocal Event of the Year nominee Uncle Kracker will do the first half of the
year -- and then triple Grammy nominee and Texas icon Pat Green will finish
off the year.
"There were a bunch of markets we didn't play with Kracker last year,"
says Chesney, "and I really wanted everybody to have the chance to see what
he does, to hear 'When The Sun Goes Down' and just feel his vibe. So, we
decided to split it up -- and then bring Pat Green, who is just an awesome
performer and supercool guy out for the shows in the sheds, which is
actually the way it worked with Kracker last year. Both of those guys get
it, so I know the fans wherever they see us, are in for a real treat.
"As for Gretchen Wilson, she's one of those girls who just kicks butt and
takes names. She's not afraid to be just who she is, either, which I think
is a big deal. Know who you are, then turn up the volume. It's gonna be a
With the Country Music Association Awards coming up -- where Chesney is
nominated for Entertainer, Male Vocalist, Album (for When The Sun Goes Down)
and a pair of Vocal Events -- Nov. 9 and the American Music Awards -- where
he's nominated for Country Male, Country Album and the all-genre Favorite
Artist Award (opposite Usher, Norah Jones, Evanescence and Outkast) -- Nov.
14, Chesney wanted to "make it official," so he wouldn't be dodging the
obvious questions on red carpets everywhere. And as he admits with a laugh,
"It's only been a few weeks, but I'm already starting to get the itch to get
back out there."
In the final stages of recording Be As You Are: Songs From An Old Blue
Chair, which drops Jan 25, the perpetually tanned Chesney is ramping up for
the new year. With "The Woman With You" screaming up the country charts, at
least two more singles expected from the triple When The Sun Goes Down, a
quadruple certification for No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems and a triple for
Greatest Hits, it's obvious that Chesney's place in the sun is anywhere he
and his fans come together. And starting in 2005, that place will be crowded
with a few other friends who know how to kick it up and make it rock more
than just a little.