A Wayward Word's Worth

November 3, 2010

The Devil Kris Kristofferson Knows

Filed under: Uncategorized — kylelawrence @ 12:46 pm

The weathered songwriter still strums to keep from succumbing to his demons. By Kyle Mullin for Edmonton’s SEE Magazine, Oct. 28 2010

Long after the song is over, something more can be heard in the fading hum of the strummed guitar strings, felt only by fingertips toughened from years of plucking those lonely notes. It’s a beautiful revelry in what remains, and Kris Kristofferson has spent a lifetime finding that special sort of salvation from the fringe edges he’s forced himself towards — be it the Sunday morning hangovers he’s become so famous for singing about, or a memory dulled by the much more potent brew of old age.

The latter is a prime example of the 74-year-old entertainer’s biggest current struggle — right now he’s sitting, racking his brain to remember the name of the John Steinbeck novel he used as a reference for one of his most renowned songs.

“It was inspired by, whatcha callit,” he says of “ ‘Here Comes That Rainbow’ again — a tune that was based almost verbatim on dialogue between characters that scrape together a few sweet morsels of kindness at a diner during the Great Depression in Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, and went on to become a favourite anthem of Kristofferson’s friend and mentor, Johnny Cash.

“I think I might’ve changed a word here or there, ya know, just to make it rhyme. The scene always moved me,” says Kristofferson.  “I loved (Steinbeck’s) style, and at the time (that I wrote the song) I wanted to be a novelist myself, so I could identify with what he was doing.  I’d love to think that I could write a book like that someday, but I wonder sometimes if I have the brain just to do my shows.

As long as I keep playing gigs it’d be harder to finish something longer (than my songs), but I would like to write a novel before I totally lose my memory.”




The Devil Kris Kristofferson Knows


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