DIARY - 19 MAY 2006 - KRIS KRISTOFFERSON INTERVIEW
WILLIE, A CROWE AND MORE
here you are, the final attraction/ awaiting direction from somewhere
above." - Final Attraction - Kris Kristofferson.
Texan born singing actor Kris Kristofferson is flattered that he has been
honoured with a tribute disc while he is still alive.
celebrates his 70th birthday on June 22, 2006 - five days before release
of The Pilgrim - The Songs Of Kris Kristofferson by American
And, equally importantly, the Rhodes Scholar is happy with the eclectic
cast that are more reflective of another road - the Lost Highway.
They include fellow singing actors Shotgun Willie Nelson, Shooter
Jennings and Russell Crowe and unsung heroes Todd Snider, Marshall
Chapman and prolific writer Bruce Robison and his singing spouse and
mother for four Kelly Willis.
revealed he has a spiritual debt to Academy Award winning actor-singer
"We went off and saw Russell's band when they did this great show
at a local place."
Kristofferson told Nu Country TV in a call from his home on idyllic Hawaii
"When we came back to his home I went off and went to bed. They had
this amazing jam session that I regret to this day that I wasn't there.
It's one of the biggest regrets I have. I want to come back and tour.
I owe him one."
The charismatic legend has made several Australian tours since debuting
here in 1974 with former singing spouse Rita Coolidge and a teenage Graeme
Connors as support act.
Kris has returned on separate tours in the nineties with The Highwaymen
and the late Johnny Cash and a solo tour in 2005.
The father of eight and grandfather of three, who jogs four miles daily
with third wife Lisa, has recovered from heart by-pass surgery and spoke
at length of his acting and singing career early on a cold autumn morning
after Geelong had beaten St Kilda at the Docklands.
Kristofferson also spoke of recent studio disc This Old Road (New West)
on which he honours peers Willie, Merle Haggard and Steve Earle and late
heroes Hank Williams, Waylon Jennings, Mickey Newbury, Roger Miller, Janis
Joplin, John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix.
The album is distributed in Australia by Shock who also released his 2003
Broken Freedom Song: Live from San Francisco on Oh Boy.
Another disc Kris Kristofferson Live from Austin, Texas on New
West-Shock is also scheduled for release on May 30.
UNEDITED KRISTOFFERSON INTERVIEW
Here is the
unedited text of our exclusive interview with the celebrated singer, actor
It must be flattering that Gretchen Wilson and Russell Crowe had an arm
wrestle to record Sunday Morning Coming Down for your new tribute album?
Kris Kristofferson: "Yeah, what time is it down there?"
Dawson: "It's 6.45 a m on a beautiful, rainy autumn morning."
Kristofferson: "Good morning then. Oh man I don't even like tribute
albums but I love this one. They nailed the soul of the songs. I don't
like birthdays either."
Q: So how did Gretchen beat Russell Crowe to cut Sunday Morning Coming
A: I don't know - it was probably the decision of producer Tamara Saviano
who is also the publicist and coordinator. Man, Gretchen really she nailed
it - it's not a song you think of a girl singing anyway. But she got the
soul of it and when she got that repeated chorus at the end there it was
just the perfect combination of pain and exhilarating joy you get with
that music. She just sucked everything out of it."
Q: So Russell Crowe finished up with Darby's Castle.
A: Yes, Russell was great - he had the perfect voice for Darby's Castle.
How have you heard all these songs - I didn't think it was coming out
Q: I read about it in The Tennessean in my research. Why did he list Darby's
Castle as his second choice?
A: "His voice is the perfect voice - he sounds like the legend. Tamiana
probably gave him the choice. I don't why he sang that - might be because
we did a television show together. I sang that although they didn't use
that in the TV broadcast.
Q: Was that PBS Sound Stage?
A: Yeah, they cut that and In The News out of my program even though they
both got a standing ovation - I think the people who can censor that shit
Q: Russell would only have been five years old when you sang on the Shel
Silverstein written soundtrack of the 1969 Tony Richardson directed Ned
Kelly movie made here with Mick Jagger as Ned.
A: Ha, ha, I did that because Shel asked me to. Waylon had got mad at
the soundtrack director (Ron Haffkine) and quit.
Q: You and Waylon were still battling the system in Nashville back then.
A: Yeah and Shel was a friend of mine from the start - he just hung out
with scruffy songwriters - me and my friends. All the establishment in
Nashville were breaking their necks to get him to do things they were
into. He was writing for Bobby Bare, Dr Hook and many others. He was still
a cartoonist for Playboy then."
Q: You spent time on Russell Crowe's farm when you were down here last
A: Yeah, what a beautiful place. We went off on saw Russell's band when
they did a show at a local place. When we came back I went off and went
to bed. They went off and had this jam session that I regret to this day
that I wasn't there. It's one of the biggest regrets.
Q: At least you had good sleep.
A: Yes, anyone can have a good sleep. It was quite a session, I was told,
in his home.
FINAL ATTRACTION FOR WILLIE
here you are/ the final attraction/ awaiting direction/ from somewhere
Final Attraction - Kris Kristofferson
Final Attraction on This Old Road was inspired by Willie, how long
did it take you to write it?
A: I wrote part of it a long time ago when we were making a film called
Songwriter and the second verse was very recently, inside the last
Q: So it dates back to 1984.
A: Yeah, we used the first verse in that film - at the very end of
it. But I didn't have a second verse until recently.
Q: Back then U made the two Pair Of Aces movies and gave a
start to Shelby Lynne.
A: Shelby Lynne doesn't need any help from us - she's a great artist
Q: She then turned up as Johnny Cash's mother in Walk The Line.
A: Can you believe it? She was playing his mother. She was great.
Q: You have
both Shooter Jennings, who played his dad in Walk The Line, and
his mum Jessi Colter on your tribute disc?
A: Well, Waylon and Jessi were there in the early days and I watched Shooter
from when he was a little kid. It's great that Jessi has returned to recording
with her own new album and Shooter is carrying on the family tradition
with his songs.
Q: You also made the docco Be Here To Love Me on the late, great
Texan - Townes Van Zandt.
A: Yeah, we were all seduced by glamour of being wasted people. Everybody
would think about being Hank Williams. There was something very attractive
about burning brightly and dying young. I feel very fortunate to have
made it to the other side of that. But I was 10 years older than all my
peers. I'd already done the army and Oxford. I was physically older, and
I think it might have helped me in my battle to overcome the natural shyness
and stage fright.
Q: You also appeared in the docco on the late Dottie West.
A: I had one scene in it - she was a dear friend. She was just like the
old guys such as Willie. Yeah, and someone will do one on Mickey Newbury
Haven't you also appeared in a video on a tribute disc to Mickey Newbury
that Kacey Jones is bringing out?
A: Oh yeah I forgot about that - I'm actually in the video they did
of San Francisco Mabel Joy. I got to knock down what's his name -
I've having a senior moment again with Sammi Smith's kid.
Q: Waylon Payne.
A: Yeah, he did a great job in the Johnny Cash movie - he's a sweet
kid. I've known him since he was real little as he was Sammi and Jody
Payne's kid. He's been there forever.
Q: In your first Australian tour in 1974 you had Billy Swan in your
A: Yeah, that was great band - Donnie Fritz, I don't know if Mike
Utley was there yet but Stephen Bruton, who is on my new record, was.
Swan late came here with Harry Dean Stanton who recruited you for your
first movie The Last Movie in 1971.
A: Absolutely, they did a tour did they.
Q: Yes, Billy was in Harry Dean Stanton's band and they were touring with
A: Oh yeah that must have been fun - you ought to have a movie of that.
Q: You were born Brownsville, Texas, but can you vote for Governor in
A: No, you have to live there. I can't imagine they would want me voting
in Texas anyway.
Q: Kinky's running for Governor - there's a spiritual link anyway.
A: My God that's right - very funny.
also produced the Kinky Friedman tribute disc Pearls In The Snow on Kinkajou
Records - a joint label with The Kinkster.
It was released in Australia.
Q: In your
song In The News you were worried about what Eisenhower said about the
growing power of the military-industrial complex power base.
A: Yeah that was an amazing thing to say for a 5 star Major General and
Republican - he nailed it.
Q: All of what he has said has come true.
A: Christ they have spent billions of dollars on these wars. Who do they
think is going to make those billions? Not the people who are making them.
It's very depressing - not a shining moment in man's history.
Q: What sort of exposure are you getting for that song on Americana stations?
A: I don't know if they play anything of mine on there. Every now and
then people say they hear a song.
American, you're the one they never tamed/ cause you stood your ground/
and they could not make you change/ you're the warning they still don't
understand/ watch your back, boy/ they'll kill you if they can."
- Wild American - Kris Kristofferson
Well, Merle Haggard has spoken his mind throughout his career in his
songs on politics.
A: Yeah, I mention Merle on this record in the Wild American and other
people like Steve Earle. Merle had a record out that was against the
war too. Willie had his song called Whatever Happened To Peace
on Earth? I'm just checking off the good guys - they're thinking
Q: Back in the early days wasn't the first song of yours that was
ever covered called Talking Vietnam Blues? Ralph Emery and
Dave Dudley cut it.
I got it cut immediately. There weren't any songs about Vietnam at the
time - it was well written. I tried to write it as a talking blues type
of thing - it sounded like Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan. It was probably
180 degrees from where I would be today but I meant it at the time. I
had just volunteered for Vietnam myself. Thank God I wasn't sent - I would
probably would have had a hard time doing some of the stuff I would have
to do in the name of duty. That's why I feel really bad about the situation
with the troops today. It's like the people sending them over there to
kill and be killed are guys who never wore a uniform during combat. The
only one who was ever in the military was Rumsfeld and he was there during
the peacetime. Somehow they seem equally numb to feeling any kind of responsibility
for the human suffering will bring down more than the Bush administration
- it's a horrible place to think at this end of history that's the way
we're choosing to communicate.
SHOW GOES ON
used to talk about the Rock And The Roll/ that made it matter not to sell
your soul/ like a banner that we held so high, we weren't afraid to fall/
steady rolling through the warning signs/ that were hidden in between
the lines/ that kept us rocking till the break of day/ or any break at
all." - The Show Goes On - Kris Kristofferson
In The Show Goes On you joke about commercial being a dirty
A: Yeah, that's what we like to tell ourselves when no-one was recording
our songs - it was a holier than thou feeling. But the truth is we
did believe the work we were doing is serious and should be soulful
and should be honest. The guys we look to as examples were guys like
Willie and John Cash. One of the blessings of my life was we ended
up such close friends - we made movies and music together. I wish
I had known at the time how precious that time was - those tours we
did together were wonderful things. I wish I had cherished every moment
I was standing up there with John, singing harmony with him with him
whether we liked it or not. He laughed at me - no-one would have the
gall to sing harmony with him on Folsom Prison Blues.
Q: You have
kept yourself pretty fit over the years - you even walked back to the
Hilton here across a railway bridge after one concert.
A: Well, you know I don't know if I would call myself fit years ago but
I've got to do it for my head. I run with my wife very slowly every morning.
You got to work harder at it every day.
Q: Whereabouts in Maui do you jog?
A: It's on a street that people don't drive on - it's got a huge hill,
which by itself is an aerobic exercise. It's about four miles - we do
it every morning after we take the kids to school. Hopefully we get back
in time for my interviews.
Q: What other movies have you made lately - Disappearance this
year was the last one I read about?
A: Yeah, unfortunately it's got no money behind it at all - it was really
a great script and character to play. He was an old whiskey runner - I
really enjoyed it. We made it in Vermont
Q: The character was Quebec Bill.
A: He was pretty outrageous but a positive spirit that I hoped would rub
off on me.
Q: What other movies are in the pipeline?
A: You know, I haven't got a damn thing - somebody just sent me a western
with a small part in it. The parts are few and far between that an old
guy can play.
Q: What about tours?
A: I was just getting healthy here as I had some back spasms. I just finished
a tour of the north with no problems.
Q: Well, you had better come back here.
A: It went so well last time I'm expecting an offer to play down there
Q: It would a good reunion with Russell Crowe.
A: Yeah, I just sent him a note about singing Darby's Castle. I really
owe him one - I really love Russell and his band. They are doing it for
the love - and that's just the best reason.
Q: Well, thanks your time again Kris, I'll look forward to seeing back
on stage down here.
A: OK, thankyou.
PILGRIM - TENTATIVE TRACK LISTING
listing for The Pilgrim - The Songs Of Kris Kristofferson (New
Emmylou Harris & Friends (Jon Randall, Sam Bush, Byron House, Randy
Scruggs) - The Pilgrim: Chapter 33
Willie Nelson - The Legend
Rosanne Cash - Lovin Him Was Easier
Shooter Jennings - The Silver Tongued Devil
Jessi Colter - The Captive
Russell Crowe - Darby's Castle
Gretchen Wilson - Sunday Morning Coming Down
Patty Griffin and Charanga Cakewalk - Sandinista
Randy Scruggs (instrumental) - Smile At Me Again
Brian McKnight - Me & Bobby McGee
Todd Snider - Maybe You Heard
Shawn Camp - Why Me
Marshall Chapman - Jesus Was A Capricorn
Bruce Robison/Kelly Willis - Help Me Make It Through The Night
Lloyd Cole & Jill Sobule - For The Good Times
Marta Gomez - The Circle
Rodney Crowell - Come Sundown
Kris - old demo of Please Don't Tell Me How The Story Ends
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