A lifetime of stories all in one night
It’s amazing to think that a tall, skinny, grizzled 71-year-old man with gray hair and a guitar can sell out a concert. Sunday night at the Vilar Center in Beaver Creek, legendary singer/songwriter Kris Kristofferson did just that.
A hush fell over the audience as the lights darkened in the theater. The silence quickly turned to thunderous applause and a standing ovation as Kristofferson stepped out onto the stage. For the next two hours, we were all treated to the artist at his most exposed, and his performance was honest and familiar.
Listening to Kristofferson was like sitting around a campfire with your favorite old uncle, the one who never seems to run out of new adventures to tell you about and can’t quit waxing on old romances. Kristofferson obviously draws his lyrics from his experiences, and the deep-set lines in his face are like a road map to the story of his life. I was thankful that he was willing to share that map with me.
He kept it simple from beginning to end. Only a microphone, an acoustic six-string guitar and a harmonica wrapped around his neck kept him company on stage. The simplicity of his songwriting and playing made the music relatable to people from all walks of life. He sang of the typical country fare – broken hearts, booze-soaked nights and loneliness that would kill most mortals – while managing to give depth and soul to the characters in his songs. His gravely voice sounded oddly meek, not what I expected from a man of such stature. More than once during the night he forgot the lyrics to his own songs, recovering quickly with a joke or some anecdote that brought the audience that much closer to him. I realized why Kristofferson is so endearing; he is human and makes no attempt to mask it. He is over trying to impress the crowd, and simply wants to be a part of it. The entire time he was on stage, I felt like I was the only person there, and he was telling me his story.When it was all over, he thanked the crowd and backed away from the microphone; a humble man who is grateful for his fans, yet proud enough to know that we are there to see him. Another standing ovation ushered him off the stage, but he left us all with a part of himself.