Did you know that Kris Kristofferson songs are estimated to have been recorded by more than 450 artists?
Kristofferson’s success as a country singer-songwriter is truly beyond comparison. His chart-topping hits helped redefine country music and led to a lengthy career that spanned more than five decades.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of Kris Kristofferson‘s greatest hits through the years.
1. “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down”
Kristofferson’s debut album closed with “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down,” which tells the tale of a man who struggles with loneliness and solitude. He wrote this poignant ballad while living alone in a tiny apartment following his divorce, at the same time losing a job as a pilot for being drunk at work.
The song opened up a whole lot of doors for Kristofferson, especially when it was recorded by Johnny Cash, who took it to the top of Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.
2. “Why Me Lord”
The country-gospel “Why Me Lord” turned out to be the biggest hit of Kristofferson’s career, which he wrote during an emotionally low period of his life.
While going through a rough time, he decided to join a spiritual service led by Rev. Jimmie Rogers Snow, inspiring him to compose this song.
3. “Me and Bobby McGee”
“Me And Bobby McGee” has been recorded by some of the biggest names in country music, with notable versions by Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and so much more. Kristofferson recorded his own version for his debut album, which also appeared in the 1971 American road movie, Two-Lane Blacktop.
4. “Help Me Make It Through the Night”
Inspired by Frank Sinatra’s interview, who said that he believed in “booze, broads, or a bible…whatever helps me make it through the night,” Kristofferson penned this song about a man’s longing for intimacy. “Help Me Make It Through the Night” helped Kristofferson score his first Grammy Award, winning the category for Best Country Song.
5. “The Pilgrim, Chapter 33”
Kristofferson’s second album is a treasure house of powerful songwriting, and this song stands out among the rest. Inspired by his own experience of living as a songwriter – as well as his often unemployed friends – Kristofferson wrote “The Pilgrim, Chapter 33” about a man who has fallen upon tough times.
6. “Please Don’t Tell Me How the Story Ends”
In 1978, a year before their divorce, Kristofferson and his then-wife Rita Coolidgejoined forces for a duet album that includes this fascinating ballad. However, it was actually Ronnie Milsap’s recording that brought the song to the mainstream, taking it to the top of country charts.
7. “Lovin’ Her Was Easier (Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again)”
Though it was never released to country radio, the song reached No. 26 on the Billboard Hot 100 while ranking No. 4 on Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks.
8. “To Beat The Devil”
Thousands of aspiring songwriters making their way to Nashville – or even those who are facing apparently unbeatable hurdles to achieving their dreams – would absolutely relate to this song.
9. “When I Loved Her”
Ray Price also recorded this poignant ballad, but Kristofferson’s ragged vocal style remains very much etched in country fans’ minds – despite its heartbreaking lyrics.
10. “My Heart Was The Last One To Know”
This is one of the first songs Kristofferson wrote while he was still a struggling musician with a helicopter pilot sideline job, and he penned it like how Hank Williams would’ve handled it.
11. “Feeling Mortal”
Kristofferson reflects on his well-celebrated career in country music and the inevitable passage of time in “Feeling Mortal.”
“I guess when you get to be 76 years old, you start thinking about the shortness of the time left,” he said.
12. “Good Morning John”
Kristofferson wrote the song in response to Johnny Cash’s struggles with addiction. According to the songsmith, everyone was supposed to say something during the celebration of Cash’s sobriety in the 1970s, so he wrote the country ballad.
13. “They Killed Him”
The song is a homage to Kristofferson’s own heroes like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Jesus Christ, who died after leading lives of peace and service.
14. “Ramblin’ Jack”
According to Kristofferson, “Ramblin’ Jack” is like Bob Dylan and William Blake, whose life was all about music and “lived for whatever poetry they could come up with.”
15. “Good Christian Soldier”
Exploring religion, war, and how a man’s faith can often be conflicted – this song is one of the few Kristofferson did not write for his second album.
Kris Kristofferson Songs That Endured The Test of Time
Kris Kristofferson’s music has indeed become some of the most enduring tracks in American history. Here are some more hits you should know.
Even though the talented artist decided to end his career in 2020 – one thing is for sure, Kris Kristofferson songs will remain in our hearts forever.