||January 21st, 2010|
by lyle e davis
Magic happened last (Sunday) night.
Kris Kristofferson was in concert. Alone. On the stage, by himself, with his guitar and a harmonica, a microphone, one baby spotlight, a musical stand with notes, a bottle of water, and that was it.
We watched a Master at work.
Oh, his voice breaks now and then . . . but danged if it doesn't break in all the right places.
He's 73 years old now. We didn't see a lot of kids at the concert . . . only us old kids. The ones who were with him when he was young, like us.
While Kristofferson has a definite sound that is clearly his and his alone . . . his magic is not just in his voice.
No, his greater magic is in his crafting of words to tell a story. Stories that sometimes make you cringe and wince, that make you absorb the smell of a sopping wet beer rag of a bartender in a sometimes seedy bar, of stale cigarette smoke . . and body odors . . . that makes you hear the tinkling of glasses and bottles of beer, and the heartbreak of a man who has just lost his true love. Again.
Kris' writing does all that. He writes of blood and guts and beer . . . but he does it in such a way that you find yourself nodding and thinking . . . "that's nice."
Kristofferson has led a sometimes hard life and traveled some rough roads; he was, and is, a maverick. An activist. And it's reflected in his lyrics. Oh, those lyrics! Writers love, and are often envious of, other writers. And Kristofferson is a writer's writer. He writes stuff that most of us other writers only dream about.
He is, after all, a Rhodes scholar. He's also a former Army Ranger, having attained the rank of Captain, as well as his wings as a helicopter pilot. The son of an Air Force Major General, he had traveled much of the world long before he became an entertainer. He saw a lot . . . and filed it all away in that mind of his. He often goes back there, to his mind, and picks up bits and pieces of his past and crafts the words into a story that totally envelopes you as he tells it in song.
Go to Google and type in Kris Kristofferson Lyrics. You'll find an inventory that will knock your socks off. Sure, you'll find his standards . . . the hits. "Sunday Mornin' Coming Down," "Help Me Make It Through the Night," "Jesus was a Capricorn," “Me and Bobby McGee,” but you'll find almost a gazillion others, each of which has its own special story, its own special lyrics.
On the stage, Kristofferson is all business. He appeared on stage, on time, and began to pick his guitar, play his harmonica . . . and sing. No big fanfare, no stage announcer introducing him. He just came in from the wings . . . took center stage, and did his job . . . which is that of a troubador, a balladeer, a storyteller . . . and he had us. He had us in the palm of his hand.
He'd finish a song, say "thank you," after each song, and then begin another. Occasionally he'd have a few comments between songs . . . but, unlike other artists, he didn't attempt comedy between songs . . . he was there to sing, and sing he did.
The California Center for the Arts, Escondido, is an ideal venue for shows like this . . . and the new formula seems to be working. Outside promoters are bringing class acts like Kris Kristofferson in and the audiences are responding.
I reckon I'll be a more and more frequent guest at the Center for the Arts . . . the entertainment is just too darned good not to be there!
Next time you have a chance to see Kris Kristofferson in concert . . . drop whatever you're doing and go! You are watching a mind at work . . and a Master Storyteller in Song.