The three musicians whose music I listened to most as a kid were Willie Nelson, Jim Croce and Kris Kristofferson. My three favorite songwriter/storytellers were Kristofferson, Nelson and Tom T. Hall. And Kristofferson, who recently revealed that he can no longer remember much other than the words to his songs, also was among my favorite actors.
Years before I ever imagined riding a New York subway, I regularly sang “Casey’s Last Ride” (along with “Help Me Make It Through the Night,” “Darby’s Castle,” “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down,” “Best of All Possible Worlds,” and “For the Good Times“) while riding alone and bucking bales on a hay slip. I knew “Me and Bobby McGee” as a Kristofferson song before I heard ever Janis Joplin sing it. “The Pilgrim: Chapter 33” is still one of my favorite songs, which in drunken moments I liked to imagine was about me even though I hadn’t yet lived enough to know much of anything about anything.
All of that, of course, means that I have subjected Joanna to a lot of music by the former Rhodes Scholar, boxer and helicopter pilot — enough that she sometimes jokingly calls me a “Silver-Tongued Devil.” But she now sings along with me to several Kristofferson songs.
And one of the most relevant of those songs, especially since I met Joanna and sobered up, is “Why Me?” I particularly relate to the lines, “What have I ever done to deserve even one of the pleasures I’ve known?” And as former atheist who began believing in God because of an experience I had early in my sobriety I can relate to Kristofferson’s story of why he wrote the song. That story is included in the video below.