Kris Kristofferson is a Country Music Hall of Famer who ranks among the most versatile of American talents. He’s been a Golden Gloves boxer, a Rhodes scholar, a college football player, an acclaimed actor, a military officer, a helicopter pilot, a Grammy-winner, a screw-up and an icon, and now he finds himself releasing the third Don Was-produced album in a twilight years trilogy. Feeling Mortal follows 2009’s Closer To The Bone and 2006’s This Old Road in examining hard-won grace.
In the Nashville beginning, Kristofferson threw away a promising military career in favor of life as what he sometimes calls, “A songwriting bum.” He had excelled at most everything he’d ever tried, save for singing and songwriting, but it was the singing and the writing that called to him. He wound up penning classics including “Me and Bobby McGee”, “Help Me Make It Through the Night”, “Sunday Morning Coming Down”, and “For The Good Times” as well as a slew of other empathetic, incisive gems. Kristofferson-along with contemporaries Tom T. Hall, Mickey Newbury, Willie Nelson and John Prine-enhanced the scope of country music songwriting, focusing on layering, nuance, empathy and emotional truth.
Kristofferson isn’t one to arm-wrestle with his own legacy, or to set his truths of today against the truths of his old-and-gone immortal self, but he’s pleased that a life that has been sustained by the product of his own imagination remains fruitful. Above all, Kristofferson is happy to be happy, grateful to be grateful, and wholly unwilling to take the credit for the wondrous way it’s all worked out. In the end, Feeling Mortal is a melodic note of gratitude, from creator to Creator. “God Almighty, here I am,” he sings. “Am I where I ought to be? I’ve begun to soon descend, like the sun into the sea/ And I thank my lucky stars, from here to eternity/ For the artist that You are/ And the man you made of me.”
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