Kris Kristofferson

Reissues

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.

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