By Michael Aushenker
Writers Bloc has long been a forum for interesting conversations, but Tuesday promises something really special when music writer Robert Hilburn interviews singer-songwriter Kris Kristofferson about his late friend, the iconic Johnny Cash, at the New Roads School in Santa Monica.
A Rhodes Scholar, Kristofferson is the perfect person to wax nostalgic on Cash: He not only wrote songs for The Man in Black, but, with Cash, comprised half of 1980s country supergroup The Highwaymen.
Hilburn, who was a Los Angeles Times music critic for three decades, recently penned “Johnny Cash: The Life,” a biography detailing the triumphs and travails of the music icon who, as the song goes, “played everywhere, man!” — from the Hollywood Bowl and Las Vegas to Folsom and San Quentin prisons.
Cash is best remembered as a founding father of country, but his musical roots sprang from gospel, folk and the early rock ‘n’ roll he immersed himself in at the start of his career touring with Jerry Lee Lewis and a green Elvis Presley.
Though the conversation will focus on Cash, who died in September 2003, Kristofferson is a legend in his own right. The actor and singer, who in recent years moonlighted as an actor Marvel’s “Blade” trilogy and “Dolphin Tale,” has written and recorded a slew of classic songs. Kristofferson’s “Me and Bobby McGee” turned into one of Janis Joplin’s biggest hits, his “Help Me Make it Through the Night” was covered by Presley, and, “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” a melancholy paean to alcoholism, became one of Cash’s signature songs.
On recent albums such as “This Old Road” and follow-ups “Closer to the Bone” and “Feeling Mortal,” Kristofferson teamed up with producer Don Was to deliver eloquently crafted statements on everything from love and aging to U.S. foreign-policy follies.
And, if Tuesday’s Writers Bloc audience is lucky, perhaps Kristofferson will share an anecdote or two from the 1970s about acting for wildman “Bloody” Sam Peckinpah in the classic “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid” and “Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia.”
The Writers Bloc meets at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Ann and Jerry Moss Theater at New Roads School, 3131 W. Olympic Blvd., Santa Monica. $25. Free parking.