Sunday, September 7, 2008

Sunday Music: Kris Kristofferson

Today we feature everyone's favorite helicopter pilot/Rhodes scholar/actor/singer/songwriter Kris Kristofferson.

At one point, Kristofferson was sweeping floors at Columbia Studios in Nashville, while Bob Dylan recorded Blonde on Blonde. Much of his bio is similarly picaresque. Johnny Cash was one early admirer; Kristofferson delivered a tape of "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down" via helicopter, landing in Cash's yard.

Although he personally recorded the songs in this playlist, Kristofferson sings like...well, a songwriter. His voice is better than Burt Bacharach's, but not as pleasant as Randy Newman's. Kristofferson's songs are best enjoyed when covered, and boy have they been covered. "Help Me Make It Through The Night," sung by Sammi Smith, shocked some country fans with when it was released in 1971. Women weren't supposed to pursue one-night stands, especially in the Bible Belt. Johnny Cash's version of "Sunday Mornin'" wasn't the first, but it's my favorite. The classic Janis Joplin cover of "Me and Bobby McGee" has just the right mixture of bitter and sweet. However, I couldn't resist including this knee-slappin' Loretta Lynn cover. The arrangement is pure Nashville Baroque. Just when you think they're done adding tracks, they pile on a change of key!

"Kris Kristofferson talks booze, hellraising and landing a chopper on Johnny Cash's lawn." in The Guardian [Link]

"The Kris Kristofferson Story" at the Country Music Hall of Fame [Link]

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