Über Kris Kristofferson
It's hard to know just which has been more influential: Kris Krisofferson's songwriting, or his persona. The songs speak for themselves -- "Sunday Morning Coming Down," "Help Me Make it Through the Night," "Me and Bobby McGee," to name a few. But a lot of people who recognize Kristofferson's grizzled visage don't even know he wrote those numbers, so there must be something else about the guy that resonates. He's the personification of an individualism America often pays lip service to, but rarely respects. A Nashville outsider in the early '70s with his beard, long hair, and left-leaning politics, his rebel stance never seemed like a callow pose. It instead came off as the product of careful deliberation and hard-earned wisdom -- after all, the guy was a Rhodes Scholar. His singing has always been a little too ragged to match the commercial success of those who covered his tunes, but his face and demeanor are perfect for the movies, where he continues to play reserved characters that seem to have deep wells of knowledge and experience.