Another addition to my Death List, this time from Kris Kristofferson, In the News. This is a sad and angry anti-war song from one of the premiere songwriters of the last half of the twentieth century. I remember when I was a student at the University of Saskatchewan and taking a variety of courses, one of which was an introduction to philosophy. We were studying the existentialists, and I wasn’t quite sure about the concept. The day I was introduced to existentialism I went home and was listening to Kris Kristofferson’s Me and Bobby McGee, and thought, my god, there it is. “Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose” – strip it down and you get the terrible responsibility that comes with “enlightenment”.
In the News comes from This Old Road, which, when it came out, was on heavy rotation at our house. The album was bare-bones, songs from a haggard warrior sharing experience through an acoustic guitar and a raspy, guttural voice. No adornment here but the elevation of a cowboy philosopher passing judgement on his own life and experience.
The song begins with a terrible vision of cruelty, a horrifying glimpse into a dark corner of the human condition. This is a war metaphor – a glimpse into the bent, misshapen contortions that human beings are forced into in times of war. It was timely and necessary when it came out and is timeless in its ferocity.
This one I dedicate to the philosophers.
Read about the sorry way he done somebody’s daughter
Chained her to a heavy thing and threw her in the water
And she sank into the darkness with their baby son inside her
A little piece of truth and beauty died
Kris Kristofferson, In the News