Kris Kristofferson Critical Essays

Introduction

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Kris Kristofferson 1936–

American songwriter and actor.

Kristofferson is credited with broadening the range of country music in the early 1970s. In contrast to the simple emotions expressed in many country songs, Kristofferson's sensitive, autobiographical lyrics touch "the more tender aspects of the human condition," according to Laura Cunningham. Kristofferson's songs have a literary quality rare in country music, for he utilizes uncommon metaphors and unique rhyme schemes in his bittersweet portrayals of love and life. The emotional depth of his songwriting has gained Kristofferson a following in the pop music world as well.

Kristofferson became successful as a songwriter before he began his recording career. His first album, Kristofferson (1970), featured several songs recorded previously by other artists. Although many critics feel that his writing had already peaked by the time this album was released, Kristofferson won the Country Music Association's Song of the Year award in 1970 for "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down."

Spooky Lady's Sideshow (1974) is considered by some critics to be Kristofferson's most ambitious album. The songs examine the themes of personal and social alienation and reveal a strain of irony that some believe is deliberate self-parody. Although he still records albums and performs concerts, Kristofferson has also pursued an acting career that has overshadowed many of his recent songwriting efforts.

(See also Contemporary Authors, Vol. 104.)