Kris Kristofferson - Feeling Mortal

Empire Theatre April 2014
Kris Kristofferson has always been someone I've looked up to and admired. He's been one of my special folk heroes ever since I stumbled upon his presence back in 1975. I first found him in the movie 'Alice Doesn't Live Here Any More'. I knew nothing about him, but liked his style and the resonance of his voice. A few months later I caught him one Saturday night on a Nashville music special on ABC TV in Geraldton WA. I'd run away to Geraldton to try and get my life together but unfortunately I'd taken myself along for the ride.

Anyway, I heard Kristofferson sing 'Jody and the Kid' and 'Sunday Morning Coming Down'. I was so affected  by the lyrics and his voice I under went some type of spiritual awakening and it freaked me out. Not enough to give up the booze, something that was really troubling me at the time, but enough to know that someone else felt like I did on Sunday mornings as well as most other mornings of the week to boot.

Original lyrics "Help Me Make It Through The NIght"
from our Country Music Hall of Fame Nashville visit in 2008

On the following Monday morning I went down to the local record shop and purchased three albums. His first one, 'Kris Kristofferson, 'Spooky Lady Sideshow' and 'The Silver Tonged Devil and Me'. His songs become my gospel for trying to make sense of life and how I chose to live it.

My first son was born in 1977. The Kristofferson/Streisand movie 'A Star is Born' was showing in Townsville at the time of his birth. It was only natural to name him Kris after the love and respect I had for this man. At that time my personal life was as out of control as the rock star he portrayed in the movie. Back then my hangovers were so severe I often felt like I was a breath away from dying.

Me with Kris and my father Xmas '77
When I stopped drinking in 1983 I still hung onto Kristofferson's touching songs about love and loss and held tight to his recording of 'One Day At A Time Sweet Jesus', because that's all I had left. I continued to watch with interest the versatility of this man but somewhere much like Bobby McGee, I let him slip away.

Late one Monday night back in 2005 Jo and I were watching the Denton Show and on walks Kristofferson as one of his guests. To say I was blown away to hear that he was in Australia to do a solo acoustic tour is way too low key. After the show finished I told Jo all about the 1970's part of my life and how Kristofferson fitted into it. The next morning I went online and bought us tickets for his June concert  at the Empire Theatre in Toowoomba.

His show at the Empire opened up my journey-some heart much like an old-fashioned atlas I was always looking at when I was a kid. His songs took me back then brought me on home. Jo also loved the stories that his music told.

But it didn't end there. On the way out of the theatre I was still in that place of feeling blessed in having heard the man sing when Jo told me to turn my phone on and check my messages. And oddly enough there was a message there. It was from Kristofferson's road manager. His message said that if we went to the stage door we could spend a few minutes talking with Kris.

Me Kris and Jo Toowoomba 2005
Jo had been telling me she'd sent him a letter and that I could end up meeting him. I wasn't sure how that would work but I'd should have known better. When my beautiful wife Jodie is involved with anything there are usually Angels at work unseen. I had time enough to tell Kris how profoundly I'd been affected by his songs way back and that I'd named one of my sons after him. He autographed my ticket and Jo and I  had our photo taken with him. Instinctly I look at the framed photo every morning when I walk to the kitchen to grab a cup of tea.

During the three hour drive back to Maleny after the 2005 concert, I gave Jo some of the more intimate detail of my life from 1975-83. She encouraged me to write a book about what I'd shared with her. So the next day I started to do just that.

The story line (partly truth, partly fiction) was a loosely based extended study of Sunday Morning Coming Down. I gave it the working title of 'Disappearing Dreams'. I did eventually complete the book but could never get anyone to publish it for me. In 2011, living in Switzerland and with time up my sleeve, I self published Disappearing Dreams on (

Last Thursday night Jo and I went to the Empire Theatre in Toowoomba for another night of Kris Kristofferson in concert. Jo had again sent a letter to Kris care of the theatre saying that I would again lovee to catch up with him and give him copy of the book that he'd inspired me to write.

Just out of Toowoomba I took a phone call from Tony who said he was Kris' tour manager and yes, Jo and I could meet up with him after the show. I have to admit that that news made his songs that night just a little bit sweeter. I was so grateful and couldn't thank Jodie enough for the way that she loves me.

As a true fan, his concert was touching, real and at times very funny. It was also special because his daughter Kelly joined him on banjo and vocals in the second half of the show.

The night became awesome when Jo and I went back stage after the show where I had a few minutes with Kris to tell him how he'd inspired me to write Disappearing Dreams. This man is so humble he told me that he 'had no idea how he could inspire any one to do such a thing'. He promised me he'd read the copy I gave him. The photos and having him sign a copy of my book were added bonuses.

My dreams no longer disappear. Now I much prefer to live along the line from Kristofferson's song 'The Promise' that goes  'And I pray your freedom makes your dreams come true'. That goes for my life and everyone else also. Way back in 1975, in a lost and lonely place of my life, singing out of tune and raving on to any drunk that would listen, I always had a feeling that I would meet Kris Kristofferson the man. But I never thought that I'd meet him twice. Thanks again Jo.

Kris has a new album out called 'Feeling Mortal'. I hope it's not his last. I'd love to meet up with him one more time. And I love these words from the title track:

'God Almighty here I am
Am I where I ought to be
I’ve begun to soon descend
Like the sun into the sea
And I thank my lucky stars
From here to eternity
For the artist that you are
And the man you made of me' 


  1. Wonderful story Rob. How wonderful to meet the mentors that have inspired us in our life, and be able to tell them of their influence in our journey. Understand that your and Jodie's enthusiasm for life rubs off on those around you in unseen ways, and that you too are mentors for silent others.


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