Kris Kristofferson Peter Reilly - Essay

Peter Reilly

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Kristofferson] uses a personalized c-&-w form as his mode, but the brains and wit apparent in his songs are as far removed from Nashville as Balliol. Star Spangled Bummer (Whores Die Hard) is probably the most ambitious track [on "Spooky Lady's Sideshow"]; an allegory about the current American predicament, it is unsuccessful because of Kristofferson's habit of burying meaning in a welter of symbols and images so complex that it would take a cryptographer to figure them out—and all this in that hokey down-home accent yet! Much to be preferred are his performances of such material as I May Smoke Too Much, the story of a Mr. Clean who slowly realizes that the smokers and drinkers and Casanovas are having all the fun and finally decides to join them, or his comment on his own life and career in the subtly defiant Rock and Roll Time. In these songs the use of a specific patois actually enhances the ideas in a solid American literary (Joel Chandler Harris, Arthur Kober) and musical (Stephen Foster, Charles Ives) tradition.

Peter Reilly, in his review of "Spooky Lady's Sideshow," in Stereo Review (copyright © 1974 by Ziff-Davis Publishing Company), Vol. 33, No. 3, September, 1974, p. 95.