Kris Kristofferson–Jesus was a Capricorn, Hippy Music

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“If it sounds country man, that’s what it is—it’s a country song,” saysKristofferson as he begins to sing his “Me and Bobby McGee.”

Living-Room Albums

I was happy when I realized I was lined up to review this record from the past, a significant one for me.  It’s one of those I call the “Living Room Albums.”

There are eight years between me and my brother, with my eldest sibling being eighteen years older than I.  One of the results of this is that the stereo cabinet in our living room contained some weird albums, the pieces my five siblings either forgot or purposefully left behind.  There were 45s and LPs and even a couple film-thin, one sided things—the likes of which I have not seen since.

 Jetsam

So besides “Revolution” and “Good Vibrations” on 45, were several albums of varying degrees of interest to me.  One of these living-room albums was Jesus Was a Capricorn by Kristofferson. There was a hippy guy and girl (Rita Coolidge) kneeling on the cover and other hippies were standing in the background.  I put it on, expecting “White Rabbit” or “San Francisco,” and heard country music instead.  Naturally I removed it from the turntable and replaced it with either “Revolution” or “Good Vibrations” as I would do on occasions when I rejected an album, sometimes forgetting to turn it up to 45 from 33.  That was common to my living-room music experiences of unknown albums.

I always went back to these rejected or forgotten pieces from my siblings’ purchasing history though, and eventually the first song from this album sounded good enough to listen to all the way through. I remember that first time through in that dark old room.  I went back to the stereo and replaced the stylus for a second go:

“Jesus was a Capricorn, he ate organic foods.
He believed in love and peace and never wore no shoes.
Long hair, beard and sandals and a funky bunch of friends.
Reckon they’d just nail him up if He come down again.

‘Cos everybody’s got to have somebody to look down on.
Who they can feel better than at any time they please.
Someone doin’ somethin’ dirty, decent folks can frown on.
If you can’t find nobody else, then help yourself to me.”

Country Songs by Rhodes Scholars

It struck me.  This guy can write tunes.  It sounded country though, too much so; but it’s more hippy than country, I tried to convince myself. Sure, hippy music, and I like it.  I’ll never forget hearing Kristofferson’s version of his “Me and Bobby Mcgee,” where he prefaces the song with these few spoken words, “If it sounds country, man, that’s what it is—it’s a country song.” You can’t argue with the singer-songwriter.  There it was; I liked a country album by a Rhodes Scholar.

The album did eventually disappear back into the hands of whoever had originally purchased it—let’s hope—and I had that gap in my listening choices.  I heard other of his pieces over the years when I happened to purchase one, or at friends, at parties and incidentally, and there was never anything like that early discovery that this Venn-diagram-baffling music was something worth listening to. I was always hoping for that revelatory experience of discovery again.

He seemed to try to be commercial at times, political others, topical, nice, and various other acting things—sorry to say.  Scholars may have since questioned Christ’s Astrological sign, but Jesus Was a Capricorn will always be a good album by an intelligent songwriter with a pretty decent voice.

AH

Check out his website, http://www.kriskristofferson.com