4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Johnny Cash's favorite song (that he didn't write),
This review is from: Essential Kris Kristofferson (Audio CD)
Did you ever 'discover' a song that you can't hear without weeping? That touches your heart with the simplest of words? Well . . . buried on Disc 2 (track 15) of this splendid retrospective of Kris Kristofferson's career, is the song Johnny Cash considered the very best (of those he didn't write himself).
Here in Canada "Mr. Diana Krall" (Elvis Costello) hosts a show which recently featured a stage-full of songwriter/performers. Bracketing Mr. Costello were Kris Kristofferson and (Ravi Shankar's little girl) Norah Jones, John ("no longer Cougar") Mellencamp and Johnny Cash's daughter Roseanne.
The highlight for me (for Elvis Costello too - it brought a tear to his eye which he tried to wipe away unobtrusively during the subsequent applause from the Toronto studio audience) was Kris Kristofferson's solo performance of one of his own songs.
[Just as an aside I'm partial to Kris Kristofferson having seen him perform in a coffee house in my hometown of Ottawa Canada 45 years ago (before any of his big hits like Me & Bobby McGee) - I remember his claim to fame then was as a "Rhodes Scholar" - wonder if he remembers performing at Le Hibou (The Owl) in Ottawa; Sonny Terry & Brownie McGee had performed the week before.]
Accompanied only by himself on his new signature model "Southern Jumbo" (J-45) Gibson (the simplest of chords, strummed with his thumb) Kris provided a vivid reminder of the power of the English language. He'd introduced this song to this audience (and to me - I'd not heard it before) saying,
"I read in his (Johnny Cash's) autobiography that this might be his favorite song."
[Then, looking heavenwards, his speaking voice choked with apparent humility at that thought ]
"And so I sing it for him."
The scene, is a small roadside café, the waitress is sweeping the floor;
Two truck drivers, drinking their coffee, and two Okie kids by the door
"How much are them candies?" they asked her.
"How much have you got?" she replied
"We've only a penny, between us."
"Them's `2-for-a-penny' she lied.
[THE BRIDGE, KRIS BLOWING A 2-NOTE CHORD ON HARMONICA]
And the daylight grew heavy with thunder, with the smell of the rain on the wind.
Ain't that just like a human?
Here comes that rainbow again!
One truck driver called to the waitress, after the kids went outside,
"Them candies ain't two for a penny!"
"So? What's that to you?" she replied.
In silence they finished their coffee - got up, and nodded Goodbye;
She called out "Hey! You left too much money!"
"So? What's that to you?" they replied.
And the daylight was heavy with thunder, with the smell of the rain on the wind.
Ain't that just like a human?
Here comes that rainbow again."
After a standing ovation from the studio audience, and during applause that seemed to last more than a minute -- and after surreptitiously brushing away with his left hand a tear from his right cheek (and the camera switched to Kristofferson, clearly moved that this simple song -- "Johnny Cash's all-time favorite" --- still had such a powerful effect), the show's host regained his composure and stopped the proceedings right there to ask a question:
ELVIS: "I just have to say something . . . before we move on . . . that song . . . is just SO beautiful! And pure! Can you remember the moment when you wrote it?
KRIS: "Yeah. It was inspired by a scene out of THE GRAPES OF WRATH. And . . . it was always the one that choked me up. And it (the words) just came out - all together."
ELVIS: "That's the thing I hear! And it's something you share with Rose (Roseanne Cash, seated next to Elvis) - and Rose's father! It's the work of a writer. Have you ever thought of writing a book?"
KRIS: `Well yes . . . "
"When I get old!"
[AUDIENCE BREAKS UP WITH LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE]
Yes . . . disarmingly simple words . . . set to the simplest of tunes -- an almost generic country melody (like Tom T. Hall used to employ for instance, on his "Ballad of 50 dollars") -- producing 'high art,' evoking such emotion that the great Johnny Cash would proclaim it his all-time favorite song!
A cause for joy, that there is a Disc 2 of this delightful collection, including the lesser-known but wonderful early songs by (arguably) America's greatest living singer/songwriter!
Winnipeg Manitoba Canada
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Showing 1-10 of 15 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 9, 2009 11:43:48 AM PDT
Robert Morris says:
Frankly, although I have always been fascinated by Kristofferson's background (e.g. Phi Beta Kappa summa cum laude graduate of Pomona College, Rhodes Scholar, captain in the U.S. Army and helicopter pilot as well as a Ranger, close friend of Willie and Waylon), I think more highly of his skills as a song writer (especially lyrics) than I do of his talents as a performer. That said, I again commend you on anorther uncommonly thoughtful review. After reading it, I am tempted to check out this CD of Kristofferson's "essential" work. Thank you for helping me to reconsider my opinion.
Posted on May 10, 2009 7:43:26 AM PDT
Steven A. Peterson says:
A powerful song. And a powerful review.
Posted on May 10, 2009 9:46:58 AM PDT
Matthew G. Sherwin says:
Great job on this awesome review, Mark!
Take care, Matt
Posted on May 11, 2009 1:58:25 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 11, 2009 3:08:55 PM PDT
Grace Malloy says:
Another thought provoking review, Mark! Although Kris is very much a man of the world, we know his songs are often about the least successful among us. His lyrics are profound in their simplicity while your words give us a glimpse into the very soul of this talented composer who makes winners out of the 'losers.' I think he must be a very good man.
Ever since reading your review I've been listening to one of his old C.D.s. Unfortunately "Here Comes that Rainbow Again" is not on it but his 'oldies' just never get 'old.' Thanks for a really good review, Mark.
Posted on May 13, 2009 9:49:21 AM PDT
Terry Fenwick says:
I (quickly) bought the song and shared it with others - it is on iTunes and I could enjoy it, with tears, the first time I heard it. Mark, you are such a great writer but, more than that, you are genuine. I appreciate the heart you put into your reviews. Details? Who needs a review that is acted out from the roaring lion to the credits? Take me to the heart of the story or take me to the heart of the song, if you will please. And YOU always do.
In reply to an earlier post on May 13, 2009 9:51:07 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on May 13, 2009 11:36:58 AM PDT]
In reply to an earlier post on May 13, 2009 11:37:29 AM PDT
Terry Fenwick says:
Grace - Love your comments on Mark's review. I think Kris would like to read what you said here!
In reply to an earlier post on May 13, 2009 6:19:06 PM PDT
Mark, another wonderful review with your own personal remembrance of Kris' early days and what Elvis is up to these days (this guy gets around: his own TV show!) outside of being married to one of the most talented women on the planet. Great review of one of the major songwriters to hit the map following the legendary writers of Tin Pan Alley. A helpful vote from me that hopefully will register. Keep up the great reviews.
Posted on May 16, 2009 7:19:33 PM PDT
D. Blankenship says:
Wonderful review. You have touched her on one of my favorites. Like Robert Morris here, I have had a fascination with Kristofferson myself (I am old enough to remember him when he was a puppy just getting started and was impressed even then.) A very interesting and talented many! Loved your review. Thank you for taking the time to do it.
In reply to an earlier post on May 16, 2009 7:39:28 PM PDT
Grace Malloy says:
So nice to hear from you,Terry. I've been watching for your comment on Mark's latest review. I always enjoy reading what you and the others have to say. I love all kinds of music, Terry, (Well, maybe not the 'screeching' that passes for music these days) but everything else, from Country & Western to classical. I was a little surprised but very pleased to find Mark had written a review on an old favorite of mine.