Rhodes Scholar. Boxer. Army officer. Helicopter pilot. Janitor. Songwriter. Musician. Actor. Kris Kristofferson has lived a life full enough for several men. He has followed his own uncompromising path, and in doing so, crafted a career and legacy impossible to duplicate. Try to measure the breadth of his achievements, look at the unlikely turns his life has taken, take stock of the boundless confidence and self-belief of a man who refused the idea of a life with limitations, and think of one of his contemporaries who accomplished what he has. Now think of a similar figure today. Blank stares abound. It is through his music, however, that Kristofferson proved himself a man apart. He wrote songs that were covered by the likes of Ray Price (“For the Good Times”), Waylon Jennings (“The Taker”), Bobby Bare (“Come Sundown”), Johnny Cash (“Sunday Morning Coming Down”) and Janis Joplin (“Me and Bobby McGee”). They were all huge hits for the musicians who recorded them. That was no fluke. Few songwriters have his gift for melody and storytelling. But he has proven to be more than a talented songwriter. Kristofferson is a gifted performer in his own right, both as a musician and an actor (he won a Golden Globe for his performance in “A Star Is Born”). It is a designation that is used far too casually, but it would not be hyperbole to call him an icon. For few have lived a life of possibilities realized, and come as close to the embodiment of the Great American Life.
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