Kris Kristofferson will release Feeling Mortal, his first new material in four years, to iTunes on January 22 and record stores January 29. The album is a look at where Kris is at this point in his life, following a career that has seen him as a Golden Gloves boxer, a Rhodes scholar, a college football player, an acclaimed actor, a military officer, a helicopter pilot, a Grammy-winner, a screw-up and an icon.
“Going back to the beginning, the songs have been reflections of where I was at that point in my life,” he said. “I always try to be as honest as I can in the songwriting, otherwise there’s no point in doing it: I might as well be doing an advertising job or something. And what I’m finding, to my pleasant surprise at this age, is that I’m more inclined to laughter than tears. I hope I’ll feel this creative and this grateful until they throw dirt over me.”
Feeling Mortal isn’t made up of songs about soft feelings however. “Just Suppose” is a look in the mirror with shame reflecting back while “Castaway” is a memory of scenes Kris witnessed while flying helicopters over the Gulf of Mexico. “My Heart Was The Last One To Know” is an old song, written by Kris and poet/author/cartoonist/songwriter Shel Silverstein and previously recorded by Connie Smith.
“Shel was the only person I consistently wrote songs with,” Kris said. “He was a fantastic writer. We did about a dozen songs, and usually he’d write down some titles and a description of what he was thinking about, and I’d go off and come back with a song.”
The song wraps with “Ramblin’ Jack,” a song about Kris’ folk-singing friend Ramblin’ Jack Elliott. Kris calls the song a ‘self-penned co-write’ as it was inspired and started by his younger self and finished later in his life.
“Ramblin’ Jack’s one of those people whose whole life was music,” Kris said. “He’s like William Blake and Bob Dylan and other people who just believed and lived for whatever poetry they could come up with. That’s probably the thing I was trying to be.”
Kris worked with producer Don Was, recording Feeling Mortal in three days. They cut 20 songs and picked 10 that made it onto the album. They then worked on the arrangements. The finished product is what Don calls “One of Kris’ finest albums.”