Kris Kristofferson, for as long as the world's known him, has been reflective, prying open his heart at its stitches and pulling apart the protective casing surrounding the vaporous and mystical soul that's been ever-important to the Texan, and just giving them air, staring into the holes and getting drowsy on what they're each telling him silently. The thumping of that heart has always spoken to him and it's always forced him to believe in its nattily focused, but strong powers. It's there for love and for pain and for keeping everything together, firing and pumping without any break, without a chance to reconsider. The soul, to which Kristofferson addresses the majority of his concerns is still something that he will be figuring out, trying to demystify until the very day of his final ache, his final breath and the last fading dream.
As one of the finest and most respected songwriters of all-time, Kristofferson has made a career of reflecting, of thinking about how time takes days away so greedily, how the smiles on his children's faces look when they sleep, how he manages to get through his nights, how he communes with the moonlight, how the heavens appear to him these days ("the heavens above me seem empty and gray"), how the barrooms hold more truths in their amber lights than most give them credit for, how people can be saved by those who love them the most and how nothing really makes much goddamn sense, now or then, no matter how hard it's thought about. Things just burn and they burn and they burn, until they just burn out with little fanfare.
As Kristofferson sings one of his all-time classics, "From Here To Forever," on this morning, prior to performing at the tribute to Cowboy Jack Clement at the War Memorial Auditorium that night, you hear a wise old man, in those words penned as a long-haired young man. He sings about still having a long way to grow and to take all the time that you're given and see what happens with it. You're lucky if you're watching for a long time, never tiring of the view.
*Essay originally published November, 2009
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