Meet Kris Kristofferson
“I don’t really think of myself as an icon, just a screw up in a lot of ways, but someone who always followed my heart. And I’m real proud of that.”
Kris Kristofferson is arguably one of the most influential and iconic singer songwriters of all time. His career as a singer/songwriter and film actor have left an edible mark on multiple generations. Kristofferson is a Country Music Hall of Famer who ranks among the most versatile of American talents. He’s been a Golden Gloves boxer, a Rhodes scholar, a college football player, an acclaimed actor, military officer, helicopter pilot and Grammy winner. He also counts among his closest friends some of the greatest singer songwriters in history. Notably, his longtime friendships with the late Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Janice Joplin and his ongoing 5 decade friendship with Willie Nelson.
“I’ve been incredibly fortunate. Many of my friends were my Heroes before they became my friends. It’s been a life like no other,” says Kristofferson. He reflects on his life of friendships, victories and missteps in his newest album, the 28th of his career, ’Feeling Mortal.’ ‘Feeling Mortal’ producer Don Was has worked with Kristofferson for the past 17 years says, “A major reason for Kris’ enduring popularity is that he’s always been very honest and open about revealing his inner life.” Kristofferson and Was spent three days recording ‘Feeling Mortal,’ cutting 20 songs and picking 10, then bolstering the basic tracks with stellar instrumental work from guitarist Mark Goldenberg, pedal steel master Greg Leisz, keyboardist Matt Rollins, violinist and vocalist Sara Watkins, bassist Sean Hurley and drummer Aaron Sterling. They emerged with what Was believes is “one of Kris’ finest albums.”
Kristofferson who continues to write and perform and recently returned from a tour in Europe, says, “I’m not touring to promote my album. I’ve had the good fortune to be a singer songwriter, so performing and writing is just what I do.” Adding, “I’m grateful for every day I get to do what I love. Some people are not so fortunate and I think that’s one of life’s great sorrows, not living the life you imagine. ”
Kristofferson knows exactly what it is to live a life imagined. In the Nashville beginning, he threw away a promising military career in favor of what he has often referred to as ” being a song writing bum.” He had excelled at most everything he’d ever tried, except the two things he says burned inside him, writing and singing. Within a few years of working as a janitor in a Nashville recording studio, Kristofferson had penned numerous classics including, “Me and Bobby McGee,” “Help Me Make It Through the Night,” “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” and ” For the Good Times.”
Kristofferson is credited along with Tom T. Hall, Mickey Newbury, Willie Nelson and John Prine for enhancing the scope of country music songwriting. Their songs focused on layering, nuance, empathy and emotional truth. That kind of emotional truth is evident in the tracks from ‘Feeling Mortal’. “Wide awake and feeling mortal,” Kristofferson writes on the title track, “At this moment in the dream/ That old man there in the mirror/ And my shaky self esteem.” ” Going back to the beginning, the songs have been reflections of where I was at that point in my life, ” he says. “I always try to be as honest as I can in the songwriting, otherwise there’s no point in doing it.” Kristofferson goes on to say,” What I’m finding, to my pleasant surprise at this age, is that I’m more inclined to laughter than tears. I hope I’ll feel this creative and this grateful until they throw dirt over me.”
Kristofferson shares many of his personal stories and insights about his life, friendships, the music business and his lifetime journey as a singer/songwriter in Season 3 of Troubadour, TX. “Many of today’s young songwriters have something important to say, something significant to contribute. I don’t really think of myself as an icon, just a screw up in a lot of ways, but someone who always followed my heart. And I’m real proud of that,” says Kristofferson.
Kristofferson says above all he’s happy to be happy, grateful to be grateful and completely unwilling to take credit for the wonderful way his life worked out. As he sings on his new album, “God Almighty here I am/ Am I where I ought to be? I’ve begun to soon descend, like the sun into the sea/ And I thank my lucky stars from here to eternity/For the Artist that You are/And the man you made of me.”