Sunday, December 21, 2008

"Me and Bobby McGee" - Kris Kristofferson

Kris Kristofferson, now 72 years old, is a great American singer songwriter who was inducted into the "Songwriters Hall of Fame" in 1985 and the "Country Music Hall of Fame" in 2004. However, that headline description doesn't begin to capture Kristofferson's remarkably eclectic life. A military brat, Kristofferson graduated from Pomona college in 1958 and then attended Oxford University as a Rhodes scholar before joining the U.S. army in the 60's as a helicopter pilot and achieving the rank of captain before resigning his army commission in 1965.

Thereafter started an incredible performing career as a singer, songwriter and actor after he moved to Nashville initially as a janitor at the Columbia Records office in Nashville and caught the attention of Johnny Cash by landing a helicopter in his backyard. He had many hits as a songwriter and his songs were performed by many leading musicians. He won a Golden Globe as an actor in the film "A Star is Born" opposite Barbara Streisand.

For me, his great song "Me and Bobby McGee" will always remain his signature track. It has been made famous by several great performers like Johnny Cash and Janis Joplin (who dated Kristofferson until her death in 1970) but his own version below is my personal favorite. Listening to the line "Well I'd trade all my tomorrows for a single yesterday" still sends tingles down my spine. This line with its expression of an aching desire to relive the past even for a single day and the desperate longing to recover or perhaps redo what has already happened is a powefully tragic motif in art. The past, to me, is infinitely more fascinating than the future and nobody has better articulated my feelings on this than the great German writer W.G. Sebald. (If you have not read any Sebald I would highly recommend reading "The Emigrants"). Sebald said:
"It's that sensation, if you turn the opera glass around----Curiously, although its further removed, the image seems much more precise. It's like looking down a well shaft. Looking in the past has always given me that vertiginous sense. It's the desire, almost, or the temptation that you might throw yourself into it, as it were, over the parapets and down. There is something terribly alluring to me about the past. I'm hardly interested in the future. I don't think it will hold many good things. But at least about the past you can have certain illusions."
Here's "Me and Bobby McGee":


Charles Dodgson said...

G'day Fawad, I do not have much to comment on this other than to say I enjoy reading your intellectual meanderings. I do have a question though? Do you know anything about the Jhang Mela? I ask because I am interested in storytelling and it seems that the Punjab is the home of many techniques that have been incorporated into various traditions. If you are interested I will elaborate.
Charles in Sydney.

Fawad Zakariya said...

Charles, thanks for visiting. These indeed are meanderings and so I am always surprised to find that somebody somewhere can sometimes find something here that they can connect with.

I am not aware of the Jhang Mela even though I am quite intrigued by your query. I will write to you separately on it.

Cheers and keep coming back.