Kris Kristofferson Chet Flippo - Essay

Chet Flippo

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Jesus Was A Capricorn] is a satisfying album, though in a more mellow, quiet way than would have been expected. Most conspicuous by its absence is [Kristofferson's] earlier despair, although the other themes that have sustained him appear less and in muted forms.

The obvious comparisons are to such albums as [Bob Dylan's] John Wesley Harding and [Leon Russell's] Carney. Works that mark a certain maturity as well as signifying a breathing spell; a time for the artist to answer critics, to tend to loose ends, and to try out one or two new things. In short, a request that he be at last judged on realistic terms. In that light, he's mostly successful.

The critics get a gentle blast in the title cut, the message of which is "everybody's gotta have somebody to look down on."…

There is little of the old Kristofferson here: only one road song ("Out of Mind, Out of Sight") and the only thing that would qualify as an outlaw song ("Jesse Younger") is strangely substanceless. The varying love songs—"It Sure Was (Love)," "Enough for You," and "Give It Time to Be Tender"—are quiescent and almost passive. It's as if they were dealing with emotions at arm's length, on a second-hand basis…. They also suggest that he is a man who isn't a hungry writer any more and is no longer hurting and is now accepting life on different terms.

Chet Flippo, in his review of "Jesus Was a Capricorn" (reprinted by permission of the author), in Rolling Stone, Issue 125, January 4, 1973, p. 66.