Kris Kristofferson’s Rock And Rules

Country legend shares advice

Outlaw country legend and acclaimed actor Kris Kristofferson, 73, is as bad ass as they come. He’s the man who penned ‘Me And Bobby McGee’ and landed a helicopter in Johnny Cash’s garden.

Follow Your Heart
I was in the army, and my next assignment would’ve been to teach English Literacy at West Point Military Academy, but instead, I was in Nashville for two weeks on leave between assignments. I just fell in love with the music community that was going on there. The way the old heroes helped out the new guys. It was a very soulful business at the time; I don’t know if it’s anything like that now. but it was definitely the best move I’ve ever made.

Have Patience
I was still a janitor when I turned thirty and still had a couple of years to go before I got any songs recorded but the thing is I was so in love with the thing I was doing, I wasn’t concious of really not being very successful like the rest of my family was. I’m amazed that it all turned out so well.

Write About Your Experiences
I always thought of myself as a writer and I figured that anything real that I was doing – whether it was working as a construction labourer or fire-fighter up in Alaska fighting the forest fires or in the off-shore oil fields where I was flying helicopters for almost two years – it had to help my experience for writing about.

Learn From The Masters
I tried to learn from everybody that I was in contact with and it just happened that I came through at a time when I came into contact with a lot of writers that nobody else knew about, like Mickey Newberry and Tom T. Hall and John Hartford, and there was a good underground scene there in Nashville and we prided ourselves on being, you know, soulful writers. We idealised people like Willie Nelson and Roger Miller who were rebels.

Call It How You See It
I’ve always felt that it was my was my job to tell the truth as I saw it, just the same as Hank Williams did and the way Bob Dylan did. It was important to me and I think I probably antagonised some audiences. Nowadays when I go out everybody knows what to expect what I’m singing and what I say.

I went to Peru at Dennis Hopper’s request, because he liked ‘Me And Bobby McGee’ and he took me down there to do the music for a film [1971’s The Last Movie] he was doing, which was right after Easy Rider. He was probably the most important guy in the movies then and he gave me a job and gave me a couple of lines and used my music. By the time I came back to the US from Peru where we were shooting at, I guess there’d been enough publicity about the film with Dennis and everything that I came back and I had job offers and never had to go to work at a real job.

Interview by Nick Annan

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Kris Kristofferson – Sunday Morning Coming Down

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Kris Kristofferson plays two nights at London’s Cadogan Hall on 28th and 29th July followed by a show at Manchester Bridgewater Hall on 31st July.

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