Kris Kristofferson Richard Hogan - Essay

Richard Hogan

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Easter Island's boxing imagery suits Kris offerson better than the repetitious exercises in bedside manner which filled his previous seven solo discs. Fans began to harbor serious doubts about who would raise the kids if Kris' squaw wised up to all the furtive trysts her husband's songs boasted. But new songs such as "Risky Bizness" and "The Fighter," which liken an entertainer's career to a boxer's, aren't so self-destructive as "The Stranger" and reflect Kristofferson's peculiar fascination with winning in public….

[Though "The Fighter"] is executed in the standard, poky Kristofferson/Prine style that makes much of their output intolerable, "Easter Island" has enough rock strength to lift it above the level of a mere chordal backdrop for the writer's teasing, thoughtful lyric. The song's heartfelt spirituality makes Kristofferson's more familiar persona seem a narcissistic sham. For once Kristofferson is so eloquent that he sounds tipsy with his own sobriety.

One unanswered identity problem faces this champion-in-training. Kristofferson still mixes his prize-ring parables with the myth of the Sam Peckinpah man, that martyred, coonskin-capped messiah who rides with the Wild Bunch but ends up inside the Alamo vainly dodging bayonets. A talent of Kristofferson's stature shouldn't need a romanticized frontier definition of masculinity any more than his liver needs cirrhosis.

Richard Hogan, "Kris' Craft," in Crawdaddy (copyright © 1978 by Crawdaddy Publishing Co., Inc.; all rights reserved; reprinted by permission), July, 1978, p. 68.