An article by Svein Inge Olse was published on June 22, 2016 in Norway. A fan has kindly translated it so others can access it. With gratitude to Anita Veka Espedal, thank you for your time and kindness.
Disclaimer: This is not a literal, verbatim translation. It aims to help non-Norwegian fans follow an article. Any corrections are welcomed.
“These are Svein Inge Olsen’s words about Kris. I have tried to translate it over from Norwegian to English.
SVEIN INGE OLSEN is the organizer of the Protest Festival.” – Anita Veka Espedal
Only when I realized that Leonard Cohen was right, was I was able to feel my way forward. There’s a hole in everything, that’s where the light comes in.
Kristofferson was with me throughout all the time I spend a weekend father. The time I could spend with my child was very short and I became depressed during our long intervals of our separation. I was unemployed, finding finding a job seemed impossible, and the electric in my rented dorm was often cut off due to non payment. It was during this all-black period in my life that the songs of Kris Kristofferson, written without clichés in a poetic language and delivered by a voice that seemed to have lived every single breath of what he put forward, held my life together. I discovered, for the first time ever, that I was not alone in this world.
During frequent trips to the pubs, I always seemed to stumble upon the same (often drunk) friend who knew all Kris’ songs by heart. We sang like we’d never sung before, banishing boredom with lyrics. When the light came on and we were chased out, there wan’t any other entertainment. I hadn’t found her to help me through the night, but rather scattered records across the floor like playing cards, opened them up like children open presents and immersed myself in the lyrics – singing until my voice broke. This was before Spotify, Wifi and Bluetooth were even envisioned.
On June 22, it was 80 years since Kris Kristofferson was born in Texas on the border with Mexico. He had never thought he would reach such an age, but the ways of the Lord are mysterious.
On June 24, the Protest Festival arranged the show seminar “Help me through the night – the songs of Kris Kristofferson” at Håndverkeren in Kristiansand. On September 5, Kris being awarded the Erik Bye’s memorial prize seemed completely natural. In my book «Kris Kristofferson – Poetry. Dreams. Teacher. Liar »(2001) I defined Kristofferson as the American Erik Bye and Erik Bye as the Norwegian Kris Kristofferson. Now Kris alone is left, rock-solid, and despite a failing memory which affects his ability
to do major interviews – The songs have been cast.
He embarks on an extensive tour in the Nordics in September, 2016. The 80-year-old had a tough year having lost some old friends, like Muhammad Ali.
What is it about this guy who wrote possibly the most famous song of all time about being drunk, as well as also writing one of the most heartfelt love songs about Jesus? In a note about the song Burden Of Freedom, Kris said:
“I can see how my whole life becomes like a struggle for personal freedom – freedom of speech. and I have come out of several so-called “safe” lives that were programmed for me by others and in each case – when I got out of it – the feeling was like a free fall, and a little scary. All this was about allowing me to be who I was and should be, and I think it’s a struggle for each and every one of us”.
He has also mentioned several times that if you remove “freedom” and “rainbow” from his songs, you are left with almost nothing.
Literary Scholar and Military
Unlike role models like Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan, Kris has a respectable education virtually unmatched by others in the music business. His Master’s Degree in Literature focused on the romantics and mystics eg: William Blake (1757-1827). he was a captain in the army, a certified helicopter pilot and was set become a teacher at the West Point Military Academy. He was prepared for duty in Vietnam, but never sent there.
In 1965, he realised that he never saw his future as being in the military. He quit everything and took his wife and two children to Nashville to become a songwriter. The marriage could not survive. His wife regarded songwriting as a pastime, and returned to their family home town with the children. Kris was left alone with the bottles of whiskey that had become part of his daily routine.
Some regarded Kris’ choice Nashville as a mistake – A misdirection on the way to Woodstock. Hippies did not fit into the conservative state of Tennessee.
Kristofferson’s most famous stanza is about freedom. When Janis Joplin recorded Me And Bobby McGee one of the lines, freedom’s just another word for not having more to lose written from his own experience unexpectedly became a mantra for the hippie movement.
When Bob Dylan recorded one of the albums of all time Blonde On Blonde, Kris was one of the few who slipped in and witnessed it. He was working as a caretaker at the time, but his additional odd jobs as a bartender and helicopter pilot provided other opportunities – The latter gave him a golden one. One Sunday before the bars opened, he landed a helicopter in Johnny Cash’s garden aiming to hand over some taped songs. Cash had its own version of events, but the story is true, confirmed to me. Kris was not drunk as some have said while flying the helicopter.
in 1970, Johnny Cash climbed to the top of the charts with Kris’ song Sunday Mornin ‘Comin’ Down being named Song of the Year. Sammi Smith topped with his Help Me Make It Through The Night, Ray Price with For The Good Times and finally Janis Joplin with Me And Bobby McGee. The songwwriting once considered a hobby brought Kris stardom. Kris himself has stated that he has not had to do a single session of what he would call “work” ever since.
Later, Kris’ songs have been performed by other world class artists from Elvis Presley to Frank Sinatra – As well as those already mentioned, and Bob Dylan, Jerry Lee Lewis and many, many more.
Kris has starred in more than a hundred films, with A Star Is Born (starring Barbra Streisand) and the Blade films (starring Wesley Snipes) as the best known. Although of Swedish descent, there are few better suited to roles in American Western films better than Kris Kristofferson.
According to Kris, he inherited his willpower from his father, General Henry Kristofferson. In the song The Heart he sings that if someone treats you badly, in a way you do not deserve, you must take it as a man. If you let them rule over you, they will destroy you. shake off while you can, for it is the heart that matters, after all!
This message is not unlike what you find in several other songs, such as in To Beat the Devil, perhaps the coolest song I know of.
“No links are stronger than the urge for freedom” is a line taken from the song Third World Warrior. Kris Kristofferson describes freedom as a duty more than a choice. No American superstar has been more courageous in his statements than Kris Kristofferson. During the Iraq war, he raged against the Bush administration. As a result, he lost record deals and film roles, and managers have torn contracts to shreds because of his political views.
Kris Kristofferson has said that “If you support human rights, this is a duty that comes before everything else.” and added that it would have been a betrayal not to live as he has.