Joe Exotic’s ‘My Best Friends’ Finds Light in the Darkness of Federal Prison [Exclusive Premiere]
The Tiger King star Joe Exotic is currently serving a lengthy prison sentence, but that's not stopping him from finding joy — or from releasing new music.
The former exotic animal park operator, whose story transfixed the world after the release of his 2020 Netflix reality series, extends his gratitude to his nearest and dearest in "My Best Friends," a sunny country-rock bop that premieres exclusive on Taste of Country on Tuesday (Oct. 3).
"'Cause you've been there for me since the day we met / You haven't budged an inch," Exotic sings, paying soaring tribute to those he counts as his closest confidants. "And even if I'm sick / No need to look around / 'Cause you're beside my bed / And every time I need someone to lean on, you're right there / 'Cause you're my only real true friends and I know you'll always care..."
"My Best Friends" marks the first single off Exotic's upcoming album, called Jungle Rhapsody: A Tiger King Experience. That project, produced by William Moseley, JT Barnett and Jonathan Hay, is being partially recorded from the prison facility where Exotic is currently incarcerated in Fort Worth, Texas.
"My Best Friends" makes mention of Exotic's incarceration, contrasting the sunny and upbeat vibes of the song itself with some raw, expletive-laden audio of Exotic speaking on the phone from prison. In that clip, Exotic announces his new album and promises to throw "one hell of a party" for all his fans once he's out of prison.
According to the website for the US. Department of Justice, Exotic has been sentenced to 22 years in prison, and he's currently slated for a release date of December 2035. He was convicted of "two counts of murder-for-hire, eight counts of violating the Lacey Act for falsifying wildlife records and nine counts of violating the Endangered Species Act." The murder-for-hire charges are in relation to a plot to kill Carole Baskin, a rival private zoo owner who was featured in the Tiger King documentary.
But Exotic states that his arrest and incarceration was a political move in order for President Joe Biden's administration to pass a late 2022 bill ending the private ownership of big cats as pets.
"I am a political prisoner for the Big Cat Public Safety Act — a bill signed by Joe Biden," Exotic tells Taste of Country in a statement. "That was their whole agenda to pass the act. They had to make me out to be this horrible tiger abuser. They have me in prison for taking an endangered species without a permit because I euthanized five sick tigers.
"I was the person to stop the Big Cat Public Safety Act from ever passing and they had to get me out of the way," he continues. "They nicknamed the bill 'The Tiger King Bill.' This could happen to any of you — to any of my best friends."
"My Best Friends" also serves as the official campaign song for Exotic's 2024 run for the U.S. presidency. He announced his candidacy back in March, and is running as a Democrat.
50 Essential '90s Country Songs: