Kris Kristofferson Noel Coppage - Essay

Noel Coppage

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Kris Kristofferson, like most of us, writes better when something's bothering him; unfortunately, he doesn't sing any better. ["To the Bone"], apparently designed to work off some of the feelings attending his split with Rita Coolidge (at least it will be taken that way), has some poignant and well-crafted songs in it, but Kris' vocals are so limited in range and emotional expressiveness that the listener has to do a lot of imaginative reconstruction to appreciate them. Daddy's Song …, a sort of Jody and the Kid revisited, walks a fine line between pathos and bathos, alternating between the guilt and agony a father feels when he can't live with his child and a "rational" viewpoint…. Something similar is true of The Last Time, a song whose economy and near-perfect mating of words and melody recall the glory days of the Bobby McGee era. The shock of hitting the bottom of the barrel and bouncing up slightly with a "to hell with it" attitude is deftly planted in Nobody Loves Anybody Anymore, co-written with Billy Swan…. Magdalene (a soft and third-person way of saying "she's going to be sorry I'm gone") … is the most impressive cut without being the most impressive song. I tend to value good songs more than good singing … up to a point. Kristofferson seems to be writing so much beyond his vocal equipment that most of this album is beyond that point. (pp. 101-02)

Noel Coppage, in his review of "To the Bone," in Stereo Review (copyright © 1981 by Ziff-Davis Publishing Company), Vol. 46, No. 5, May, 1981, pp. 101-02.