A much better songwriter than singer, Texas-born and Oxford-educated
Kris Kristofferson led Nashville's "outlaw" movement of the 1970s with
his gentle and melancholy ballads.
Me And Bobby McGee (1969) will perhaps remain his masterpiece,
thanks to the immortal lines "freedom is just another word/ for nothing left to lose".
He was already 35 in 1971, when
Janis Joplin finally
turned it into a lacerating anthem.
Ronnie Milsap had also recorded Please Don'T Tell Me How The Story Ends (1970).
Kristofferson (Monument, 1970),
Me And Bobby McGee (1970), with the original version of
Help Me Make It Through The Night,
The Silver Tongued Devil And I (1971), with the catchy
Silver Tongued Devil and Loving Her Was Easier,
Jesus Was A Capricorn (1972), with the hit Why Me,
made him a household name.
As his acting career boomed, his recording career floundered:
Full Moon (1973),
Spooky Lady's Sideshow (1974),
Who's To Bless (1975),
Surreal Thing (1976),
and the albums with his wife Rita Coolidge,
Breakaway (A&M, 1974) and Natural Act (1978),
are mediocre at best.
Easter Island (1978),
Shake Hands With The Devil (1979),
To The Bone (1981) simply photographed an artist with no inspiration.
After a six-year hiatus, Kristofferson managed to top his career with
Repossessed (Mercury, 1987) and
Third World Warrior (Mercury, 1990), two of the most profound
meditations on America to come out of the old singer-songwriter generation.
It took a long time for Kristofferson to record anything that could match
those albums. His next major venture into songwriting was
This Old Road (2006), the first album in 12 years.
Closer To The Bone (2009) was an intimate confession, but musically
it didn't match his classics.
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