Kris Kristofferson


Phases & Stages

Kris Kristofferson

Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends: The Publishing Demos 1968-72 (Light in the Attic)

Two souls loom large over Kris Kristofferson's Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends. The first and most obvious is Janis Joplin in that "Me and Bobby McGee" opens the collection. Kristofferson sings his most famous composition as a confessional, weathered and mournful, with a church organ drone and ghostly refrain of disembodied voices. "Epitaph (Black and Blue)" is an equally brutal lament with wounds entirely less healed than on 1971's The Silver Tongued Devil and I. The less obvious influence is Stephen Bruton, to whom the album is dedicated. The late Austin singer-songwriter-guitarist shares credits to the two most fully realized studio gems on The Publishing Demos, "Smile at Me Again" and "Border Lord," both of which bolster Kristofferson's legacy as Nashville's answer to Leonard Cohen. The Pilgrim composes with a bohemian authority and literary sophistication, melding the personal, political, and religious with startling sexual imagery in a manner that distinguishes him from his fellow Highwaymen, most notably on "The Lady's Not for Sale" and "Little Girl Lost." Most of these demos were recorded by others, including Bobby Bare (the title track), Sammy Davis Jr. ("Come Sundown"), his then-wife Rita Coolidge ("The Lady's Not for Sale"), and Dean Martin ("Just the Other Side of Nowhere"), to name a few, but there's a rough-hewn grace to hearing Kristofferson's first takes, as when the studio engineer interrupts and restarts the title track. "When I Loved Her" could've charted for Simon & Garfunkel given Kristofferson's delicate harmony, while "If You Don't Like Hank Williams" and the knee-slapping campfire sing-along "Getting By, High, and Strange" conversely embolden his outlaw image.


A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Kris Kristofferson
Texas Platters
Kris Kristofferson
The Complete Monument & Columbia Albums Collection (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Sept. 23, 2016

Off the Record
Off the Record
Music News

Austin Powell, July 9, 2010

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
Kinky Friedman
Resurrection (Record Review)

Rick Weaver, Jan. 3, 2020

Texas Platters
The Beaumonts / Hickoids
This Is Austin, All the World's a Dressing Room (Record Review)

Kevin Curtin, Jan. 3, 2020

More by Austin Powell
SXSW Music Spotlight: Ural Thomas & the Pain
SXSW Music Spotlight: Ural Thomas & the Pain
Portland soul singer gets his second act

March 11, 2022

Spoon’s Britt Daniel confronts <I>Lucifer on the Sofa</I>
Spoon’s Britt Daniel confronts Lucifer on the Sofa
Q&A on his return to Austin and making a real rock record

Feb. 11, 2022


Kris Kristofferson

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle