Aged To Perfection
Kris Kristofferson has performed for me via 8 track tape, cassette tape, CD and live at The Palace Theatre, Greensburg, PA. I’ve listened to his music from the 1970’s to January 27, 2017 and beyond, where a full house joined me in a music appreciation evening of raw Kris. The intimate feel of this Palace jewel suggested a gathering of friends in my living room, singing along with our talented, guitar playing friend.
The lights dimmed, Kris, sans introduction, walked to center stage alone, plugged in his guitar, adjusted his neck harmonica and began the first of many fan favorites. For the next two hours, to paraphrase the lyrics in a Billy Joel song," Kris sang and played me a memory." I was transported back to a time of polyester leisure suits and bell bottom pants, platform shoes and lava lamps, youth and marriage, Jaws and a Bahama honeymoon, more future ahead of me than behind.
Kris wore his jeans and age with equal comfort. The Silver-Tongued Devil was able to laugh in the face of infirmity as a harmonica dropped to the floor and he joked about the pains involved in picking it up. I would venture to say that 95% of his audience was able to also feel his pain in their own 70 or 80 year old bodies. Silver hair, silver facial hair, and Silver Sneaker eligible, but vintage Kris Helped Me Make It Through the Night with style and grace. He made no excuses for an aging voice, he made a few self-deprecating comments about his less than virtuoso guitar playing skills and he delivered beyond our expectations. His voice often growled with emotion, perhaps infused with glimpses of mortality.
My favorite son-in-law, who represented half of the millennial generation present, informed me that Kris was misdiagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. His memory loss apparently was due to Lyme disease. I admired Kris even more when I did additional research on his background. I learned that he was a literature major in college, Rhodes scholar, Army Captain, helicopter pilot and struggling musician for many years.
My favorite daughter, who represented the other half of the millennial generation present, came to the show not expecting to like it. It wasn't long before she admitted that she was enjoying it. We laughed about the way Kris ended most songs with either a premature "thank you" or an "I'm done" comment. She said she appreciated his comments because it was hard to tell when one song ended and another began. I told her I had an advantage because I knew every song, word for word.
Standing ovations throughout the concert and enthusiastic cheering as songs began as well as a few shouted requests ( admonished by a succinct "Not yet" from Kris ) added technicolor moments to a show that did not need costume changes, back-up singers, a band, elaborate sets or pyrotechnics to dazzle the audience.
All too soon, the evening came to an encore as satisfying as an after dinner kahlua and cream, the lights came up and people didn't need a mood ring to know what they were feeling. My own mood was nostalgic. Kris' limo was waiting for him outside the theater. I wondered if Kris' immediate destination was Pittsburgh International followed by a flight to his home on Maui. I said a silent prayer of gratitude for music in general and a plea to Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends.
I'm done. Thank you.
Sandra Warholic Seeley is the creator and author of Kanela's Korner and The Sandra Seeley Column. She is a lifelong educator whose teaching experience ranges from suburban Bethel Park, PA to Hawaii to urban Pittsburgh Public's Homewood, Hill District and Squirrel Hill communities. She has taught in every grade level from Kindergarten through Grade 5. She has a Master's Degree in Education from The University of Pittsburgh with a minor in English. Her passion has always been the teaching of Communications: Reading and Writer's Workshop. She is now a freelance writer. To contact the author, click the following link.