Kinky Friedman has announced the release of his first new album since 1976's Lasso From El Paso. The Chicago native will release The Loneliest Man I Ever Met on Avenue A Records / Thirty Tigers on Oct. 2.

In addition to some of his own original tunes, Friedman also includes songs by Tom Waits, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson on the project.

“What I’ve tried to do is interpret some of these songs," Friedman says (quote via VintageVinylNews.com). "But it’s not like Tony Bennett sings Willie Nelson; it’s more spiritually halfway between those people and me. So if you’re not a little bit melancholy, maybe you should be.

“A happy American creates nothing great," he continues. "My definition of an artist is someone who’s ahead of his time and behind on his rent. If you can figure out how to stay that way, you can write the great s--t that Kris [Kristofferson] and Willie were able to do ..."

Nelson himself will appear on the record's first track, "Bloody Mary Morning," along with his sister, Bobbie Nelson, who plays piano for the song.

"You hang on for dear life when you're working with Willie," Friedman tells Rolling Stone Country. "I just remember getting so high I needed a step ladder to scratch my a--. I don't smoke pot really, but I will with Willie just as a matter of Texas etiquette.

"Some of Willie's picking on this thing is just terrific, and talk about stripped down," he adds. "This is just Willie playing on Trigger, his sister Bobbie playing baby grand piano and Kevin Smith, Willie's bass player, on stand-up bass."

Friedman used the crowd-funding site PledgeMusic to raise money to release the new album.

"These songs were never intended to be used as background music at a frat party; instead, they are very personal, as if chosen to be played for a dead sweetheart, a lost cat, a silent witness," the 70-year-old explains. "In selecting these particular songs, it sometimes felt like I was wandering in the raw poetry of time. But the Jersey Boys kept things on track, and the words and music came together, conceptualization by Zoey, striped down like a serenade to Miss Spiritual Tramp, 1947.

"That’s when it hit me," Friedman continues; "I was already there."

Friedman will embark on his The Loneliest Man I Ever Met Tour beginning on Oct. 9 in Ashland, Va. A list of dates is available on his website.