In the annals of country music, the company he's kept has often overshadowed Kris Kristofferson's achievements. After all, it's hard to hang out with heavyweights like Willie, Waylon and Johnny Cash without suffering by comparison. However, Kristofferson's friendship with those giants was built on his status as an equal. More than a mere songwriter - even if he has had some 500 songs recorded by other artists - Kristofferson built his own legacy over the past four decades by being one of the most original and influential voices in country music.
Part of the excellent Austin City Limits series, "Live From Austin TX" captures a dynamic Kristofferson performance from September 1981. Sure, the 16 songs featured include the expected hits, one-of-a-kind songs like "Loving Her Was Easier" and "Help Me Make It Through The Night," but it also offers much more. Drawing from his '81 album "To The Bone," songs like "Magdalene" and "Star Crossed" document Kristofferson's divorce from singer Rita Coolidge and uncertainty over his future and career. It's heady stuff, Kristofferson's marvelous baritone supported by a whipsmart band that includes guitarist Stephen Bruton and keyboard wizard Donnie Fritts. With a back catalog in serious disarray, this is a fine snapshot of the greatness of singer, songwriter and performer Kris Kristofferson.