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Free Mojo: Still crazy after all these years

by Ryan Snyder

Free Mojo: Still crazy after all these years

It’s not unusual for your typical musician to give away the occasional digital EP or full-length to promote themselves on a larger scale, but Mojo Nixon is by no means typical. In fact, he’s nuts and always has been. He thinks everyone should go out and buy Chris Knight records, while wishing grave misfortune on Rascal Flatts. He’s assailed pop culture with songs like “Debbie Gibson is Pregnant with My Two-Headed Love Child” and “Don Henley Must Die.” The outhouse rat took one look at him and said, “That man ain’t right.” Mojo Nixon is used-car-salesman crazy; the kind screaming on your television that he’s practically giving everything away. Well ol’ Mojo does like to yell and he is giving it all away — almost his entire catalog, that is. Save for a collaboration with the Dead Milkmen’s Jello Biafra, Prairie Home Invasion, Nixon recently made nearly every album he’s recorded available for free download on Amazon.com for a three week period that ends on October 28.

The Chapel Hill-born satirist and psychobilly maven doesn’t expect to lose a lot of money over the proposition, frankly, he says, because he wasn’t making a lot over it to begin with. In purely exaggerated, grand Nixonian fashion, he says that giving away his music is not only for the benefit of his fans, but for the betterment of his country also.

“By giving Mojo Nixon away, I think we’re stimulating the economy, maybe even over-stimulating it,” Nixon contends. “I think that moonshine runners over in the Piedmont North Carolina will be able to make more money. They got free Mojo songs that will get them all fired up to deliver more illegal hooch.”

Fired up, indeed. Nixon was never one to go the languorous songwriting route. His modus operandi of punk, country and subversive witticism is still shines on Whiskey Rebellion, his first release of original material in 10 years. Don’t think he’s out of retirement and ready to rage on the road, however. The album is all previously unreleased tracks, dating back as far as a 1983 session with Skid Roper that was the result of three hours of studio time won in a contest. Though Nixon plays the very rare date when the right cause arises, most recently a benefit for Three Dog Night hitmaker Paul Williams, he’s relegated his madness to the airwaves as host of a bevy of popular Sirius/ XM Radio shows; Outlaw Country’s Loon in the Afternoon, Nascar Radio’s

Mojo Nixon’s Manifold Destiny and Raw Dog Comedy’s politically-themed Lyin’ Cocksuckers. With his current gig allowing him to say whatever comes to his warped mind and little to no supervision, who can blame him?

“Retiring is probably the smartest thing I ever did. Nobody wants to see boring, staid, exercising, dying his hair, picking his teeth, middle of the road Mojo that you can play for you grandmother,” Nixon hollered over the phone.

“I’d rather people remember the great shows. Someone wanted to videotape a show and I said, ‘No, you shoulda done that 20 years ago at the height of my powers.’” He has a sweet gig on the extraterrestrial airwaves, but the prospect of going back on the road is as much of a health issue as it is image maintenance.

“I only know one way to tour: the bad way,” Nixon said. “I see people who have stopped drinking and doing drugs and whoring around. They put on nice safe shows where they play the hits and ultimately to me, it’s boring. It doesn’t have any danger to it.”

That’s Mojo in a nutshell. You won’t get to see him perform any time soon, if ever, but take his music for nothing and have a nice day. It’s a zero sum game and unless there’s a deceptively brilliant marketing strategy behind it all, the only reward is awareness of a guy who once made some pretty insane music and now resides primarily as a bastion of free speech on a niche radio service. Actually, when put that way, it all makes a little bit of sense.

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