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10 Questions With Kris Kristofferson

Kris Kristofferson’s talents are as far-reaching as his impact on the musical landscape. Among his classic songs that have influenced generations of artists and music lovers are “Me and Bobby McGee,” “Help Me Make It Through the Night,” and “Sunday Morning Coming Down.”

Wednesday, January 09, 2013 | Staff

 Kris Kristofferson’s talents are as far-reaching as his impact on the musical landscape. Among his classic songs that have influenced generations of artists and music lovers are “Me and Bobby McGee,” “Help Me Make It Through the Night,” and “Sunday Morning Coming Down.”

Since the 1960s, Kristofferson’s iconic career has included success as a songwriter, singer, and actor. But his wildly varied background doesn’t stop there; it also lists time as a boxer, Rhodes Scholar, college football player, military officer, and helicopter pilot.
 
The Texas native landed in Nashville around the same time as other legendary tunesmiths Tom T. Hall, Mickey Newbury, Willie Nelson and John Prine. Before long, Kristofferson’s songwriting was receiving major recognition. In the 1970s he earned two NSAI Songwriter of the Year and two Grammy awards. He was saluted with prestigious Song of the Year honors from the Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music. In 1977 he was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, and in 2004 he became a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Still going strong at 76 years old, Kristofferson will release Feeling Mortal, his first collection of new material in four years on January 29, 2013.

Honest songwriting continues to be Kristofferson’s hallmark. “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. And 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.”

1. What does it mean to be a member of the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame?
One more piece of the Dream of my life coming true.

2. How did you get started writing songs?
When I was eleven I wrote a song called, “I Hate Your Ugly Face.” They have been coming to me ever since.

3. How did you get your first song recorded?
Persistence. I worked almost two years as a janitor at Columbia Recording Studios and flying helicopters off shore on the Gulf of Mexico, then finally got “Jody and the Kid” cut.

4. Where does the inspiration come for you songs?
From everywhere. Everything you experience can inspire a creative expression.

5. How do you tell a good song from a great one?
By how good it makes you feel for how long.

6. What’s one lesson you’ve learned about songwriting that you can pass on to future songwriters?
If you’re in it for the love, the money doesn’t matter. Life’s too precious to be wasted on anything but love.

7. Are there any songs that you wish you had written?
There are many songs I love, and I love the ones who wrote them.

8. Where were you when you first heard your first song on the radio?
Brownsville, Texas. Mexican music… oh, you mean my song. Nashville, “From the Bottle to the Bottom,” by Faron Young, At Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge.

9. Given everything it has taken to be a successful songwriter, would you do it all over again? 
You’re kidding, right?

10. What advice do you have for up and coming songwriters?
Hang out with songwriters you respect and admire.