Kris Kristofferson

Right when Kris Kristofferson found out he was going in the Hall of Fame, I saw him down to the Hall of Fame at an event Earl Scruggs hosted. They had a “pickin’ party” where there were eight or ten guys who were sitting around singing their own songs, each other’s songs, and laughing and telling stories. Kristofferson was one of them.

Obviously, I don’t know what he’s like in real life, but he came across as very generous to the other musicians. He seemed genuinely delighted to be there and honored to be with them.

Anyway, it’s raining on a Sunday morning that I usually spend with my family and there’s no one home but me and the dog. And it’s got me thinking about Kris Kristofferson, who, I think, writes the best songs about being lonely.

Here’s something the Butcher doesn’t know I know: every Sunday morning, he plays “Sunday Morning Coming Down” either before he leaves the house or on his way to work. It’s a little ritualized loneliness.

My favorite lonely Kristofferson song is “Me and Bobby McGee,” of course. It’s got everything I love–traveling, truckers, singing, nostalgia, and the loss of someone you care about.

Anyway, one of the things I appreciate about him is the way he gets that lonely doesn’t have anything to do with other people, that it’s just the problem with being one sack of blood and guts among many others. You have this internal life that seems so broad and rich (at least I hope you do), but there’s no one to share it with you.

Maybe that’s what we need our gods for, to feel like there’s someone else knocking around in here with us…

Anyway, back to Kristofferson, I think that the songs of his we like in our house get at the way that lonely might be the base state of folks and how, usually, surrounding ourselves with the noise and company of other people allows us to ignore it, and sometimes, being around other people brings that loneliness out into the open in a way you just can’t stand.

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