Richard “Kinky” Friedman first made a name for himself in the mid-‘70s with his satirical country band Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys, recording such cult classics as “They Ain’t Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore” and “A–hole From El Paso.” Friedman, 73, will perform July 17 at Rams Head On Stage in Annapolis. Jmore recently spoke with the iconoclastic singer-songwriter, mystery novelist, animal rights activist and former Texas gubernatorial candidate about the origins of his nickname, his new album “Circus of Life” and his long friendship with country music icon Willie Nelson.

1. Tell us about the new album.

One night at the ranch at around 3 a.m., my psychiatrist Willie Nelson called. He asked what I was doing. I said, “Watching ‘Matlock.’” “That’s a sure sign of depression,” said Willie. “Turn off the TV and start writing.” So I did. For the first time in 35 to 40 years, I wrote with passion. Willie’s like the hillbilly Dalai Lama. I wrote 12 songs really quickly. I call them “The Matlock Collection.” I called back and said, “You inspired me,” and I asked Willie how he was, since there have been rumors about his health. He said, “A little up, a little down. What channel is ‘Matlock’ on?”

2. Where did your nickname come from?

My full name is Richard Samet “Kinky” Big D–K Friedman. The name “Kinky” came from my college roommate, Chinga Chavin. He called me that because I had an Angela Davis-style hairdo. The name’s been a blessing and a curse. People can’t absorb it. If they think you’re funny, they don’t take you seriously. I’m a serious soul who no one takes seriously.

 3. How’s your mystery writing going?

I’m writing one final mystery called “Tin Can Telephone.” I can’t believe I’ve written almost 40 books, 20 mysteries. I’m also wrapping up a book on Bob Dylan that I’m writing with Louie Kemp, a childhood friend of Dylan’s. They met at Camp Herzl [in Webster, Wis.] when they were 10. It will be out in six months and published by Random House. The stories are amazing, and it presents a different picture of Dylan than in any other biographies of him. It will blow a lot of people’s minds.

4. What else have you been up to?

Well, I have five dogs to look after. I’m definitely an animal lover. Dogs, cats, donkeys, hummingbirds. My new and only hobby is collecting coffee mugs with hummingbirds on them.

5. Pearls of wisdom for fans?

It’s not the pot of gold, it’s the rainbow. And falling on your face is still moving forward.

Get information about Kinky Friedman’s show here.