The Pilgrim
Kris Kristofferson Lyrics


Am I young enough to believe in revolution?
Am I strong enough to get down on my knees and pray?
And am I high enough on the chain of evolution
To respect myself, and my brother and my sister
And perfect myself in my own peculiar way?

I get lazy, and forget my obligations
I'd go crazy if I paid attention all the time
And I want justice, but I'll settle for some mercy
On this holy road through the universal mind

I get lazy, and forget my obligations
I'd go crazy if I paid attention all the time
And I want justice, but I'll settle for some mercy
On this holy road through the universal mind

Am I young enough to believe in revolution?
Am I strong enough to get down on my knees and pray?
And am I high enough on the chain of evolution
To respect myself, and my brother and my sister
And perfect myself in my own peculiar way?

I got lucky: I got everything I wanted
I got happy; there wasn't nothing else to do
And I'd be crazy not to wonder if I'm worthy
Of the part I play in this dream that's coming true

Am I young enough to believe in revolution?
Am I strong enough to get down on my knees and pray?
And am I high enough on the chain of evolution
To respect myself, and my brother and my sister
And perfect myself in my own peculiar way?

Lyrics © O/B/O APRA AMCOS

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Most interesting comments from YouTube:

johnny zell

See him wasted on the sidewalk in his jacket and his jeans,
Wearin' yesterday's misfortunes like a smile--
Once he had a future full of money, love, and dreams,
Which he spent like they was goin' outta style--
And he keeps right on a'changin' for the better or the worse,
Searchin' for a shrine he's never found--
Never knowin' if believin' is a blessin' or a curse,
Or if the goin' up was worth the comin' down--
He's a poet, he's a picker--
He's a prophet, he's a pusher--
He's a pilgrim and a preacher, and a problem when he's stoned--
He's a walkin' contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction,
Takin' ev'ry wrong direction on his lonely way back home.
He has tasted good and evil in your bedrooms and your bars,
And he's traded in tomorrow for today--
Runnin' from his devils, lord, and reachin' for the stars,
And losin' all he's loved along the way--
But if this world keeps right on turnin' for the better or the worse,
And all he ever gets is older and around--
>from the rockin' of the cradle to the rollin' of the hearse,
The goin' up was worth the comin' down--
He's a poet, he's a picker--
He's a prophet, he's a pusher--
He's a pilgrim and a preacher, and a problem when he's stoned--
He's a walkin' contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction,
Takin' ev'ry wrong direction on his lonely way back home.
There's a lotta wrong directions on that lonely way back home.



il haybernam

See him wasted on the sidewalk in his jacket and his jeans,
Wearin' yesterday's misfortunes like a smile
Once he had a future full of money, love, and dreams,
Which he spent like they was goin' outta style
And he keeps right on a'changin' for the better or the worse,
Searchin' for a shrine he's never found
Never knowin' if believin' is a blessin' or a curse,
Or if the goin' up was worth the comin' down

He's a poet, he's a picker
He's a prophet, he's a pusher
He's a pilgrim and a preacher, and a problem when he's stoned
He's a walkin' contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction,
Takin' ev'ry wrong direction on his lonely way back home.

He has tasted good and evil in your bedrooms and your bars,
And he's traded in tomorrow for today
Runnin' from his devils, Lord, and reachin' for the stars,
And losin' all he's loved along the way
But if this world keeps right on turnin' for the better or the worse,
And all he ever gets is older and around
From the rockin' of the cradle to the rollin' of the hearse,
The goin' up was worth the comin' down

He's a poet, he's a picker
He's a prophet, he's a pusher
He's a pilgrim and a preacher, and a problem when he's stoned
He's a walkin' contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction,
Takin' ev'ry wrong direction on his lonely way back home.
There's a lotta wrong directions on that lonely way back home



Steve Cabral

It’s common for songwriters to try and disguise the identity of those folks they write about in their songs, if only to preserve the mystery a little bit. Kris Kristofferson must have known, however, that his song “The Pilgrim, Chapter 33” was an airtight piece of work, and so he names all of the potential suspects that partially inspired the song right off the bat in the spoken-word intro.


Among the candidates he mentioned are just about every musician who played on 1971’s The Silver Tongued Devil And I, Kristofferson’s second album which contains “The Pilgrim”, as well as bold-faced names from the worlds of music and movies like Johnny Cash, Jerry Jeff Walker, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Bobby Neuwirth, and Dennis Hopper. Come to think of it, he could have named just about any one of the iconoclastic characters that frequented Hollywood and Nashville around that time and the song would have seemed like a dead-on portrait of that person.


Kristofferson writes with such emotional insight that you have to believe that he saw a lot of himself in the character as well. As he told CMT, “Well, there were a lot of people that the pilgrim stood for or that I felt fit into that category, and most of them were people who were serious about songwriting, but an awful lot of us just looked like we were out of work.”


Like all great songwriters, Kristofferson knows just how important those first lines are, so he delivers an opening couplet here that combines telling details with a searing simile to let us know exactly what this Pilgrim is all about: “See him wasted on the sidewalk in his jacket and his jeans/ Wearing yesterday’s misfortunes like a smile.” With the scene so effectively set, he can go about telling the rest of the story, how this outlaw has seen better days but forges on nonetheless “searchin’ for a shrine he’s never found.”


One of the hallmarks of Kristofferson’s best songs is his ability to make his poetics seem effortless and plainspoken, while his scratchy, deep voice adds an extra patina of integrity to seal the deal. What makes “The Pilgrim” so effective is his ability to both romanticize the character’s rebellious stance without skimping on the damage that he’s done to himself: “Runnin’ from his devils, Lord, and reachin’ for the stars/ And losin’ all he’s loved along the way.”


Kristofferson suggests that the character ultimately doesn’t regret his decisions, especially in the final verse when he sings, “The goin’ up was worth the comin’ down.” In the chorus, Kristofferson demonstrates just how much of a “walkin’ contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction” this guy is, using the timbre of his vocal to vacillate between the better angels and the pesky demons that accompany The Pilgrim at every step while he’s “Takin’ every wrong direction on his lonely way back home.”


The title of the song seems a play on the Christian allegory The Pilgrim’s Progress, Kristofferson’s implication being that this guy measures progress in a much different way than the pious. Why he decided that this particular snapshot was “Chapter 33”, well there’s some mystery for you. As for the identity of “The Pilgrim”, it matters not, because Kristofferson’s portrait of him is resonant enough that we know his triumph and heartbreak by song’s end, even if we don’t know his name.



All comments from YouTube:

Daniel Mills

Like Dylan, there are songs that only Kristofferson could have written. Kristofferson has the uncanny ability to write about depression and human emotions and our faults and turn it into something beautiful. A true genius.

TransRoofKorean

Yeah, I wanna say "Townes van Zandt did it best", but he never bothered with the beautiful, just what was real.

Carson Wyatt

Don’t forget about Prine!

Joey Sinko

"I'm no pusher, I never have pushed." Travis B.

TheAwesome Ran

This is one of the greatest songs ever written

Cyrel Moore

Definatly

iarocks44

Easily one of my favorite songs ever. It really resonated with my when I was in my teens.

J C

Agreed

Robin S

You ain't lying.

Corey's Morgan

Right up there for sure

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