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Kristofferson the Great
May 20, 2005 11:56 AM   Subscribe

KRISTOFFERSON!! Born in Texas to an Air Force General, Kris Kristofferson was a Golden Gloves boxing champ who studied writing at Pomona College. Graduating Phi Beta Kappa, he was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford (students of Merton College later voted that the college should erect a statue of Kristofferson, naked astride a motorcycle of his choice, in Front Quad but funds were never made available) and had two short stories published in the Atlantic Monthly. After Oxford, he joined the military where he trained as a Ranger and learned to fly helicopters. Turning down an invitation to teach at West Point, he packed his bags and left for Nashville, taking a job as a janitor at Columbia Records' recording studio and following his dream to be a songwriter. He flew helicopters to offshore oil rigs in his spare time, until he became too frustrated and, as legend has it, got drunk, flew his helicopter onto Johnny Cash’s backyard, and handed him his demo tapes. A week later Cash sang Kris’ song “Sunday Morning Coming Down” on The Johnny Cash Show, four months later it sat atop the country music charts, and later that year it won the CMA for best song of the year. (more inside)
posted by billysumday (59 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Kristofferson then went on to become a successful songwriter, having artists like Janis Joplin (“Me and Bobby McGee”), Ray Stevens, Roger Miller, and Jerry Lee Lewis sing his songs. A bit of a boozer, Kristofferson lost his helicopter pilot job when he passed out at the controls and caused the divorce from wife, Rita Coolidge, when he was reaching a bottle and half of Jack Daniels daily. You may recognize Kristofferson now as an actor in films like the Blade series, John Sayles’ Lone Star and Silver City, and a lot of films where he looks like this.

They don’t make ‘em like this anymore, people.
posted by billysumday at 11:58 AM on May 20, 2005


Kris Kristofferson is one of those people who makes whatever you've done with your life seem lame by comparison. I envy everything he ever did. Except for making out with Streisand in "A Star Is Born." That was just not right.
posted by wendell at 12:01 PM on May 20, 2005


Impressive
posted by caddis at 12:05 PM on May 20, 2005


Anyone remember Amerika? So much hype and so little substance. The story was about the takeover of the U.S. by the Soviets. Two years later, the Berlin Wall came down. This must have been during his Jack Daniels period.
posted by Gordon Smith at 12:10 PM on May 20, 2005


That copter landing in Cash's back yard story absolutely rocks. Man I wish I could do stuff like that. What a story. Ah fuck it, I'm using it.
posted by jikel_morten at 12:11 PM on May 20, 2005


Anyone remember Amerika? So much hype and so little substance. The story was about the takeover of the U.S. by the Soviets. Two years later, the Berlin Wall came down. This must have been during his Jack Daniels period.
posted by Gordon Smith at 12:10 PM PST on May 20 [!]


Remember it? I was in it! Actually, I was an extra in an arena scene, among a few hundred others. I got all you could eat free hotdogs and pop out of the deal - which I loved in a way only a chubby 7 year old could.
posted by jikel_morten at 12:15 PM on May 20, 2005


I can't vouch for thei music but the best band name ever has to be Pissed Pissedofferson

Makes a little more sense now that I know a bit about his life and times...
posted by Wolfie at 12:17 PM on May 20, 2005


Anyone remember Amerika?

I read the first few chapters of the novilization, belive it or not. To be fair they were paperback books I had purchased by the boxfull, and I was just a little kid.
posted by delmoi at 12:22 PM on May 20, 2005


Thanks. Kristofferson is greatness.
posted by dios at 12:26 PM on May 20, 2005


Wow, I always knew he was cool but, with thanks to billysumday, now I know exactly how cool Kristofferson is.

I'd love to have a bottle of Jack with this man.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 12:28 PM on May 20, 2005


I had no idea.
posted by cali at 12:28 PM on May 20, 2005


KRISTOFFERSON!!

When I saw this in the FPP, I flashed on William Shatner holding a prop, shaking with mock rage, and screaming the name aloud. Thanks for the mental image. /chuckle
posted by alumshubby at 12:30 PM on May 20, 2005


Phew. As soon as I read his name I thought this was an obit FPP. Glad it isn't. I loves me some KK.

Crooked Fingers does a nice cover of Sunday Morning Coming Down {mp3}.

I wish the director's cut of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid was on DVD. Kristofferson was great in that.
posted by dobbs at 12:35 PM on May 20, 2005


I hear uptown chicks into politics really dig him.
posted by condour75 at 12:36 PM on May 20, 2005


Whew... I saw this and figured he was dead. I'm not over Johnny Cash yet.

Note: I loathe country music in general but Johnny, Kris, Patsy and Hank are different.
posted by cedar at 12:37 PM on May 20, 2005


I thought he was dead, too -- whew indeed! Great post, billysumday.

Cedar: if you like that crew, you might also like Willie (he wrote Patsy's "Crazy") and possibly Waylon.
posted by scody at 12:41 PM on May 20, 2005


Man, you forgot about Kris as Rubber Duck in Convoy.
posted by mrbill at 12:42 PM on May 20, 2005


How can a thread like this not have a mention of Convoy?
posted by urlnotfound at 12:43 PM on May 20, 2005


Time to cue up "Kirstofferson" and pour myself a glass of bourbon.
posted by helvetica at 12:44 PM on May 20, 2005


!HA!
posted by urlnotfound at 12:44 PM on May 20, 2005


Wolfie: Is the Piss Pissedofferson of whom you speak based out of San Francisco? I'm asking because I played a show with a guy going by that name when he was fronting 'The Devil's Own', who subsequently broke up. If it's the same guy, I can vouch for the quality of the music--it's good.
posted by stet at 12:44 PM on May 20, 2005


"Egg Head's cousin Red Neck's cussin' hippies for their hair.
Others laugh at straights who laugh at freaks who laugh at squares.
Some folks hate the whites who hate the blacks who hate the clan.
Most of us hate anything that we don't understand"

Jesus Was A Capricorn:
Kris Kristofferson

Sweet! I was just listening to this record that I got for a quarter at the thrift store. The Johnny Cash story kills me!
posted by hardshoes at 12:44 PM on May 20, 2005


The bit about the helicopter landing in Johnny Cash's yard should be true, oddly enough. My dad used to be in the same National Guard battalion (Nashville area) as Kris eons ago (though Dad wasn't a pilot) and I remember it being a running story at the base for the longest time. Of course I'm remembering stories from early childhood, but still...that takes big brass ones.
posted by rhythim at 12:49 PM on May 20, 2005


Note: I loathe country music in general but Johnny, Kris, Patsy and Hank are different.

Not as different as you might think (although they are the best at their respective styles). You might want to check out Merle Haggard, Billy Joe Shaver, Geoge Jones, Webb Pierce, Buck Owens, Ernest Tubb, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn and Bobbie Gentry, who've all done some amazing work that would appeal to someone with a rock sensibility.
posted by jonmc at 12:52 PM on May 20, 2005


How come no one's mentioning Big Top Pee Wee?
posted by xmutex at 12:55 PM on May 20, 2005


(students of Merton College later voted that the college should erect a statue of Kristofferson, naked astride a motorcycle of his choice, in Front Quad but funds were never made available)

Sheeit, I'd of kicked in at least a sawbuck to see that on campus every day!
posted by scratch at 12:58 PM on May 20, 2005


I just saw the restored version of Heaven's Gate, and he is awesome in that (and it's a lot better than I thought it was going to be).
posted by goatdog at 12:59 PM on May 20, 2005


Yeah, his bio's pretty amazing. The first time one of my roommates tried to convince me he had done all that stuff, I totally didn't buy it, but it's pretty much all true. Pretty damn impressive.
posted by LairBob at 1:07 PM on May 20, 2005


So has he or hasn't he sold his soul to Satan?

Exhibit A: Sunday Morning Coming Down, brass balls, etc.

Exhibit B: Blade: Trinity

A simple question, perhaps requiring a complicated response. I open the floor.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 1:08 PM on May 20, 2005


The Country Music Hall of Fame mentions in passing that Kristofferson is a "social activist" but surprisingly doesn't dwell on his record in support of the Sandinistas or his backing of Jesse Jackson's presidential campaigns. Incidentally, the recording of 'Help Me Make It Through The Night' that he made for the opening of the John Huston movie 'Fat City', sparer than the single he released, is a thing of beauty.
posted by liam at 1:10 PM on May 20, 2005


I thought his marriage to Rita disappeared after he recreated the love scene with Sarah Miles from "The Sailor who Fell from Grace with the Sea" for a Playboy spread
posted by georgeTirebiter at 1:13 PM on May 20, 2005


I'm sure your right, jonmc.

It's just that at the moment I'm seeding a customers computer with a copy of Shareaza and a few dozen tunes from his favorite artists... Toby Keith, Tim McGraw, Lee Greenwood and Shania Twain.

A ruptured eardrum has got to sound better than this 'music'. Gawd, this is some awful stuff. Overall, this is not a good time for me to enter into a discussion on the merits of country music.
posted by cedar at 1:20 PM on May 20, 2005


This is just further proof that it takes all kinds to make the world go 'round. I've disliked Kristofferson ever since the concert at the stadium in Tempe where he and Babs used the audience for part of the scenes for A Star is Born - cheezy, and although he is admittedly accomplished, Me & Bobby McGee is the worst song by Joplin - EVER. Now if you want to talk about I Need A Man To Love (or anything else on Cheap Thrills), that's something else.
posted by Pressed Rat at 1:29 PM on May 20, 2005


cedar: Even some of the modern stuff is OK, if you take it in the spirit it's intended. Deana Carter's "Did I Shave My Legs For This?" and the Dixie Chicks' "Goodbye Earl" are better feminist anthems than anything anyone in the Lillith Fair or Womyn's Music crowd ever came up with.

PressedRat: I've never been a huge fan of Kris' singing but his songwriting talents, I've always respected. And I like "M&BMG," although "I Need A Man" is better, as is "Down On Me" and her cover of "Dear Landlord."
posted by jonmc at 1:33 PM on May 20, 2005


As I recall, he also stepped up to support Sinead O'Connor during the Pope photo-ripping backlash. He even wrote a song about it.
posted by annaramma at 1:39 PM on May 20, 2005


georgetirebiter has already infered that "The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea" has some hawt action going on (which indeed it does) but allow me to mention also that it is based on a novel by Yukio Mishima & it is an incredibly F***ed up film. My Kristofferson fave. Blade II also good.
posted by stinkycheese at 2:00 PM on May 20, 2005


stinkycheese: I've always wanted to see that film but it just looked too cheezy. You say it's good? Or just effed up?
posted by billysumday at 2:04 PM on May 20, 2005


The novel is pretty fucked up, too, but not in a bad way; is the movie just bad?
posted by kenko at 2:14 PM on May 20, 2005


I really like Kristofferson's songs, though others perhaps sing them better than he does.

Listening to Joan Baez singing Help Me Make It Through The Night on acid (me, not her, as far as I know :-)) is one of the most beautiful musical experiences I've ever had.

Thanks Kris! (And Joan, obviously). :-))
posted by cleardawn at 2:28 PM on May 20, 2005


"Sailor" is a truly dreadful piece of dreck, hot sex scenes or not. A loathsome piece of work, regardless of the quality of the performances (thespian and sexual.) And I agree that he should be horsewhipped for the Streisand debacle.

But--his early 70s movie, Cisco Pike, was quite good, nearly great, even...Karen Black (hot!) and Gene Hackman--and Harry Dean Stanton!... a very underrated movie.

I especially like Brian Ferry's version of Help Me Make It Through The Night, from Another Time, Another Place. Just flat out gorgeous.
posted by 1016 at 2:43 PM on May 20, 2005


Also, he was the bad guy in Payback.
posted by esquire at 2:59 PM on May 20, 2005


Wow, a Rhodes Scholar. How about that.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:04 PM on May 20, 2005


And he's beautiful. Always was.
posted by puddinghead at 4:11 PM on May 20, 2005


I'd love to have a bottle of Jack with this man.

In the day I think it was more like, "Jack, the one fifth to have when you are having more than one." (Sorry Schaefer)
posted by caddis at 4:21 PM on May 20, 2005


Back when I was at the Wesley Clark for President campaign, we got the following email from Kris Kristofferson:
"Just when the world is being dragged into the death spiral of an unending cycle of violence by a vision-less, coldblooded collection of think-tank warriors goose-stepping their way into the new millennium with a stunning lack of respect for human rights, the environment, or international law, along comes a man with the proven credentials of intelligence, integrity, and courage singularly equipped by his spirit and experience to lead us out of this mess. Don't listen to what the lying liars say about him; listen to what he says. Wesley Clark is a prayer answered." - source
I had to verify that it was actually him, because I suspected it was a prankster pretending to be him. His wife replied to my inquiry and verified that it actually was Kris who wrote that endorsement.
posted by camworld at 4:30 PM on May 20, 2005


"Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore?" Classic!

Guess it slipped through the cracks.
posted by mudpuppie at 6:13 PM on May 20, 2005


So all the "finishing off of a bottle and a half of Jack" doesn't really hurt my chances of making it big, as long as I crash my vehicle into some famous sympathetic, like minded person.

A-Ha!! My trap is set! I'll let you know how it works out.

I'm still waiting for someone to do a FPP on Kenny Loggins..
His stuff with Jim Messina is awesome.
Or the "fall from grace" story of Steve Winwood!
posted by Balisong at 7:06 PM on May 20, 2005


"Man, you forgot about Kris as Rubber Duck in Convoy.

How can a thread like this not have a mention of Convoy"


Mercy sakes alive.
posted by I EAT TAPES at 8:29 PM on May 20, 2005


Aw! Man!! That was Kris in "Convoy"..

I thought that was C. W. McCall, who was once the mayor of Oury, Colorado...
posted by Balisong at 8:42 PM on May 20, 2005


We should not forget that David Icke revealed that Kris Kristofferson is also a shapeshifting reptile!!!!!
posted by papakwanz at 9:10 PM on May 20, 2005


I love Convoy. How often do you get to see a charismatic folk hero beating the tar out of a mean cop? But there’s no way I’ll let this thread go without mentioning Pat Garret and Billy the Kid.
posted by Huplescat at 10:00 PM on May 20, 2005


Nice post.

Kris K vaulted his high bar with a bottle of whiskey in one hand.

I wonder what he might have done without that bottle of whiskey ?

Would he have cleared an even higher bar or opted for the life of an investment banker ?
posted by troutfishing at 5:23 AM on May 21, 2005


He's done excellent, indelible work playing bastards (Lone Star), and has done good, relaxed work playing sympathetic roles in films that may not have warranted the effort (Blume in Love). And his album Spooky Lady Sideshow had strange, potent resonance for me in my very young years.

Thanks, Kris.
posted by runswithscissors at 8:07 AM on May 21, 2005


I really enjoyed Kristofferson in the 1984 (made-for-HBO?) thriller Flashpoint, with Trick-or-Treat Williams and Rip Torn.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:06 AM on May 21, 2005


billysumday: I loved it. It's totally bizarre & suffused with doom & gloom. There's this evil kid who throws lit firecrackers to seagulls so they'll blow their heads off (who knows how many innocent seagulls died because of this film?). It also has one of the creepiest end shots of any film I can think of.

I think I have that Playboy with the feature in too somewheres, but it's been many years since I've seen it (the mag & the film both). As far as it being 1016's comment that it's "dreck" - between the evil kid and the sex, I can certainly see it being considered puerile, but dreck is the more blase stuff like "A Star Is Born" as far as I'm concerned.
posted by stinkycheese at 10:13 AM on May 21, 2005


I'm still waiting for someone to do a FPP on Kenny Loggins..
His stuff with Jim Messina is awesome.


Agreed! "Angy Eyes," is a killer song. I remember when they featured Kenny Loggins on Method & Red as the ironic uber-white guy. Oddly, Kenny (along with Micheal McDonald) wrote "What A Fool Believes," one of the best, and often sampled blue-eyed soul songs of the 70's. Cool is where you find it.
posted by jonmc at 10:50 AM on May 21, 2005


Even without the successes in film and music, anybody who made it through Ranger school and is a Rhodes scholar is already impressive in my book.
posted by alumshubby at 1:39 PM on May 21, 2005


KRIS!!!

The roxer fer sure!

Part of my collection, 5 of his older recordings.
Shout out for "Silver Tongued Devil!"
posted by nofundy at 1:53 PM on May 21, 2005


I just saw Lone Star again over the weekend, and was once again amazed at how good he was.
posted by schmedeman at 9:22 AM on May 23, 2005


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