New Live Album Brings Kristofferson Full-Circle
Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.Country songwriting legend Kris Kristofferson is returning with full force to the landmark music side of his career.
The Songwriters Hall of Fame and Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member, whose equally rewarding acting exploits have taken the front seat in recent years, has a new album out on Oh Boy, the indie label run by Kristofferson's old friends John Prine and Al Bunetta, Prine's manager.
While "Broken Freedom Song: Live from San Francisco" features only four new songs, Kristofferson has more ready to go.
The new songs are "all over the place," says the man responsible for such standards as "Me and Bobby McGee," "Help Me Make It Through the Night," "Sunday Morning Coming Down" and "For the Good Times," as well as titles reflecting his deeply felt spiritual, social and political concerns.
"I've got enough for another album," says Kristofferson, who hopes to do another one for Oh Boy. "Some songs aren't brand-new but have never been recorded, and others are new [and about] just stuff that you're feeling."
But a few, including one titled "Not in My Name," address current events directly. Many of the "Broken Freedom Song" cuts, which include 11 lesser-known Kristofferson compositions in addition to the four previously unreleased songs, likewise contain political undercurrents.
The title track, for instance, bemoans the besotted circumstance of a one-armed soldier, his limb lost in a war that had nothing to do with freedom. Another song, "The Circle," is about Layla al-Attar, an artist killed in President Clinton's missile attack on Baghdad following the alleged assassination attempt on former President Bush.
"It's one of those songs you just have to write, not knowing if you'll ever record it," Kristofferson says. And while it particularly "applies to what's happening today," he also included two songs from his 1990 album "Third World Warriors": "Don't Let the Bastards (Get You Down)," which decries "killing babies in the name of freedom," and "Sandinista."
As for his prized hit catalog, a two-disc best-of is coming later this year from Sony Legacy; a pair of alt-rock tribute albums, "Don't Let the Bastards (Get You Down)" and "Nothing Left to Lose," were issued last year, though "I'd just as soon be spared," he says.
Looking back, Kristofferson says, "family is more important to me than it was 30 years ago, when the road was the most important thing in my life."
But he still has passion for political situations. "You can't help watching the news," he says.
"Don't let the bastards get you down -- I believe in that," he says. "But I feel blessed to have been able to work at what I love all my life since I made that move to Nashville out of the army, and I got no regrets."
Excerpted from the July 26, 2003, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com Premium Services section.
To order a single copy of the issue, visit The Billboard Store.