Don’t mistake me for someone who knows things. A few years back a friend of mine held a film premier at the GFT and invited me along. As we were going to our seats he said, “Ricky, you know Kris Kristofferson don’t you?” I realised at this point that we were to sit next to the great man and his wife. Fortunately it was a film; the lights went out and we said hello quickly then a polite goodbye a couple of hours later.
I tell you this because I didn’t really know Kris Kristofferson’s work and right up to that point the best use of his name occurred in John Byrne’s wonderful ‘Still Life.’ (I’ll leave you to find that one) That all changed a few years ago when my friend Roddy Hart asked me along to see his show at The Royal Concert Hall supprorting the great man. What I hadn’t fully recognised was the depth of Kris’s songs, how intrinsic they were to the Scottish DNA and how much he was loved by the people of Glasgow. That night and last month he played without his band and, whenever someone would shout for a particularly massive song, reply. ‘If I do that the night will be over.’ Nobody wanted that. When he got to the end of the final chorus he would let the song trail off and announce its completion by offering a dusty, “Thank you very much,” triggering wild applause. It was magical. I told everyone to go and see it so I had to go back myself.
This time the blessed Roddy arranged for me to meet up and invite him to be our special guest on Another Country. I met up with him in his dressing room just after soundcheck at the Royal Concert Hall and I took along with me my old pal Perkin Warbeck (aka Doug Small.) Warbeck is a fan from way back and had the ultimate conversation opener to the great man, “I saw you play Matagalpa, Nicaragua in 1987”
Kris and Warbeck then spent 15 minutes reminiscing about their time in Central America and in particular Kris’s support of The Sandinistas who were facing severe sanctions from the then US Reagan government. You probably know more of Kris’s radical credentials than I do but just in case you are in any doubt, this is a good illustration of those and the man’s ability to hold his own.
In the end I must have spent 45 minutes with Kris Kristofferson and decided we didn’t have time to talk about Michael Cimino, Barbara Steisand or Waylon Jennings. We skipped over the army years and we didn’t spend time talking about the Rhodes scholarship to Oxford. However we did talk about his friend John Cash, his being there at the birth of some of the great Dylan recordings and some of the wonderful covers of his many great songs. If you need to be reminded about the impact of some of these then you might want to to listen to Glen Campbell, Gladys Knight or Elvis Presley…oh yeah, sorry…that’s just ONE song! If you want some more names….Perry Como, Willie Nelson….Al Green!
There’s so much more……. But you can hear all of that on Friday from 8.
In the other hour you will get another chance to hear the interview I did with the man who gave the name to Kris’s supergroup, The Highwaymen, Jimmy Webb which was first broadcast on January 1st. We also have an exclusive session from Jimmy and his family recorded when he visited Scotland last year.
For the night owls, I’m going to be sitting in for Bob Harris on September 19th and 20th on Radio 2. On the first of these nights I’ll be joined by the aforementioned Roddy Hart and his band.
Another great show… Kris Kristofferson is one of those artists whose music I feel I don’t know half as well as I should. I was inspired to buy “Closer to the Bone” last year on the strength of hearing the stunning “From Here to Forever” on Another Country, and this was another hearty step in understanding the man and his music a little better again. There’s a confessional, honest style to his delivery – coupled with a humility as to his ability – which makes me really wish to see him live too.
The same is true of my knowledge of Jimmy Webb – possibly moreso – and I kicked my self (hard) for missing that show on New Year’s Day, so it was a treat to be able to hear that in last week’s show also. Another Country continues to be a fine education for me.
And I’ll very much look forward to hearing you stand in for (Whispering) Bob Harris too, Ricky! In the early to mid 90’s I spent a lot of time working night shifts, and his show very much informed my taste of music at the time and thereafter. In the same tradition as for Another Country, it was a revelation to a lot of music that was new to me and I didn’t hear much of anywhere else. I’ll most certainly be staying up to hear these shows too, then…