Kris Kristofferson is a pretty darn interesting fellow. He studied at Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship, won fiction awards from the Atlantic, served in the army, and turned down a job teaching Engl at West Point to move to Nashville, whereion awards from the Atlantic, served in the army, and turned down a job teaching English at West Point to move to Nashville, where he worked as a bartender, janitor, and helicopter pilot while struggling as a songwriter. Success eventually came: Roger Miller, Johnny Cash, and Janis Joplin all recorded hit versions of his tunes. Kristofferson’s hit versions of his tunes. Kristofferson’s candid songwriting presaged the work of country outlaw artists like Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson (he, Jennings, Nelson, and Cash form the Highwaymen). His songwriting led to moderate stardom as a recording artist during the early 70s, but he discovered his greatest success in the movies. (His role in the 1976 remake of A Star Is Born with Barbra Streisand remains his best-known.) He’s made records all along, though none compare to his early work, like 1971’s The Silver-Tongued Devil and I. But last year Kristofferson hooked up with producer Don Was, and the result, A Moment of Forever (Justice), proves he’s by no means washed-up. From vestiges of his political activism (“Johnny Lobo” relates the story of John Trudell, the Native American activist who burned the flag on the FBI steps and whose family died soon after in a fire he says was set in retaliation) to insights on America’s moral decay (“Shipwrecked in the Eighties”) to tender love songs (despite the adult-contemporary coating Was globs onto it, the title track is a striking portrait of fleeting happiness), Kristofferson still has stuff to say. So do lots of other folks, but they don’t say it as well. His gravelly voice balances the sometimes glossy production with a nice grit. Both shows are sold-out. Friday, 8 and 10:30 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace; 478-4408. PETER MARGASAK
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by S. Peter Lopez.