Rocker Ted Nugent refuses to quiet down

Give this much to Ted Nugent: For all the freewheeling vitriol that effortlessly spills from his mouth, he certainly seems like a happy guy.

Jackson's bow-and-arrow rocker is in a pretty nice spot these days: His recently published book "God, Guns & Rock and Roll" landed on the New York Times bestseller list. His guy is headed to the White House, and Florida officials say the right-leaning Nugent garnered a few write-in votes of his own during that state's notorious presidential vote. The A&E; cable network will air his life story Feb. 12.

"I'm praying now more than any other time in my life, because I feel so very lucky," said Nugent, who turned 52 on Dec. 13. "I go to bed giddy. Kids, grandkids, dogs, bows, rock 'n' roll � it's not of this planet. I must be going to hell, because I'm in heaven right now."

Not that the year has been without its seeming hurdles � most pointedly, the barrage of criticism Nugent faced in Houston after an April concert, during which he remarked that anyone who can't speak English should leave the United States.

Hispanic leaders in Houston took offense at the remarks and initiated a highly publicized Nugent boycott. The rocker responded by pulling out of an August concert date there during his summer tour with Kiss.

Nugent insisted his onstage comments were misquoted � he said he never mentioned a specific ethnic group � and that the brouhaha has only poured fuel on his fire.

"It inspires more attitude ... and therefore more intensity," he said.

It's certainly not the first time in his three-decade career that Nugent's vocal action has spawned an equal-and-just-as-thorny public reaction. Even his apparent allies can't ever quite seem to swallow him en masse: He gets chided by the rock crowd for his spurning of drugs and alcohol. Not every conservative appreciates his street language and hot libertarian streak. Some traditionalists in the hunting world look at him with a skeptical eye.

But Nugent seems to crash through it all, pyro blasting, arrows flying, mouth still running.

"Yes, I'm the eternal optimist, but not because I'm cute, not because I'm clever, but because sometimes you give the world your best and they kick you in the teeth," he said. "So you learn to give the world your best anyway."

Musically, that's manifested in concert, he said, a time when the sounds become a reflection of an artist's life. "And my music," he said, "is a nonstop representation of my heart and emotional juices and humanity � all the good, bad and ugly thoughts I've created."

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