Kris Kristofferson - Billy Dee Lyrics

Billy Dee was seventeen when he turned twenty-one
Fooling with some foolish things he could've left alone
But he had to try to satisfy a thirst he couldn't name
Driven toward the darkness by the devils in his veins

All around the honky-tonks, searching for a sign
Gettin' by on gettin' high on women, words and wine
Some folks called him crazy, Lord, and others called him free
But we just called us lucky for the love of Billy Dee

Busy goin' his own way and speakin' his own words
Facin' and forgettin' every warnin' that he heard
Makin' friends and takin' any crazy chance he could
Gettin' busted for the bad times and believin' in the good

Billy took a beatin' from a world he meant no harm
The score was written in the scars upon his arm
Some felt he was payin' for the life he tried to lead
But all we felt was sorry for our good friend Billy Dee

It may be his soul was bigger than a body's ought to be
Singin' songs and bringin' laughter to the likes of you and me
'Cause the world he saw was sadder than the one he hoped to find
But it wasn't near as lonesome as the one he left behind

Yesterday they found him on the floor of his hotel
Reachin' toward the needle, Lord, that drove him down to hell
Some folks called it suicide, others blame the speed
But we just called it crucified when Billy Dee O.D.'d

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Kris Kristofferson Billy Dee Comments
  1. Dolly Price

    Love this!

  2. Dale W Miller

    The story of my kid brother, gone 10 years now.

  3. Andrew Waldrup

    This song is about billy d burns!

  4. anita espedal

    This is a song he wrot about Jimmy Henrix i think. <3

  5. Sharon Radford

    Epitaph, Black and Blue was about Janis, if I'm not mistaken.

    anita espedal

    Yes you are right, kris wrote Epitaph Black and Blue to Janis`s funeral. <3

  6. borderlord

    I was 15 and a half when I turned 21...she was 31 and from Bavaria and took me round the world in the space of an evening!

  7. Billy Doyle

    This is me. I also love having sex with drunk women. They think it's rape but it's just a laugh to me... Love you all from Billy Dee ❤️

    Susan Campbell

    You are not a nice person!!

    Bungodancer Eadie

    Sure virgin Billy Doyle.

  8. Mike Manring

    I always loved kris's gruff vocals

  9. blueputtee

    Write one verse today ,bang it around and recite it six times and you got a hit and Kris writes six verses for one song,now that's talent.

  10. Ronald Jillings

    I had a
    friend named billy dee !
    i found him this song ..just before
    he passed away a few years back !!

    John Lane

    wow..Hope it was inspiring ..

  11. Manny Wallace

    Got to see Kris last October with John Prine at the Palms in Vegas baby. 79 year old man got up and played by himself for 1 hour, then later backed up John Prine.

    Sue Zimmerman

    Manny Wallace! Kristofferson and Prine together...there could be nothing better...

    Manny Wallace

    Yeah That was a good show at The Palms in Fabulous Lost Wages NV.

    Beverly Hatfield

    Wish I could've seen that.

    Jim Brannan

    I am going to see him in Glasgow this year(2019). A lifetime ambition will be filled.
    Wish John Prime was also on the bill but that would too much to ask.
    Hail hail from Glasgow

  12. Brian Grant


    Great Post Thank You !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. Danalynne Johnson

    I remember buying this album in the late 70s, and loving this song, though I didn't understand it all until much later. Lost the vinyl album along the way, but I now have his music on CD.

    Jody Hammer

    Danalynne Johnson i caught on in the mid 80s. love him even now tho...chek out my music

  14. Holly Holy

    I absolutely love the opening line "Billy Dee was 17 when he turned 21" ..... it so eloquently describes the  anguish of young men who want to be adults but don't quite understand the difference between age and maturity.

  15. Kent Swenson

    to the likes of you and me

  16. Eric Dee

    I must have been about 17 when I first heard this - thought he was writing my song.

    Eric Dee

    Big Brother Billy.

    John Lane

    @Eric Dee wow...what mystery...

  17. Marcia Hess

    One of my all time Kris K favorites.

  18. James Greenwale

    This could've been me, Hell it may be one day. There isn't a day goes by that I don't crave the needle. 

    Holly Holy

    Keep strong.

  19. Kathy Ross

    has he ever admitted it was janis?

    Beverly Hatfield

    It was Janis, what?

    Bungodancer Eadie

    No, but Me and Bobby McGee was.

  20. Richard Batchelor

    This could be an anthem for PSH.

  21. JackEnnis

    Thanks. I'm a "Billy D."

  22. sküll düggery

    I take a beatin' from the world most ever' day and I don't mean no harm...


    sküll düggery me too

  23. sh4235

    You are all wrong. It's about a young west Texas singer/ guitarist who went by the name of Billy Dee.. Do your research.

    RaVen DaWn

    I heard an interview where KK tells very clearly this was for janis, and yet s'all ok with me either way, no matter what- you are all wrong. It's just more fun that way. Then again S because you wrote this on the net, it must be so. hah! Have fun and hit up Smokin' Joe, oh man Texas is a wealth of jams and character. I should move back, yet my woods are tract housing and the good drugs are here, on-line, in spin and suds. Everybody is wrong! I can dig it. Where's my Mezcal?

    Bungodancer Eadie

    @RaVen DaWn , Me and Bobby McGee was about Janis, they had more than a fling......I believe when she sang this song it was her first number 1 hit.

  24. UTGoat666

    I'm sorry for your loss, rainspirit. =(
    I know of one in the family who died the same way.

    I love this song and want to tell you the truth about it. It is a thinly disguised eulogy that Kris wrote for Janis Joplin. They were lovers for some time. Janis OD'd on heroin, and this song was Kris' dedication to her. Just like the song says, Janis had poked up before a show and fell and died in her hotel room.

    Billy D is actually Janis J. =(

    RaVen DaWn

    Yes It is so, I heard an interview and sorry to orange "S", it was for Janis in thin disguise. What a sweet and universal song, my brother's story someone said and that's all fine and well, yet so much more complex each case, my own brother was in a feud with himself, the FBI an uncaring family and too much damage for a rummage sale, yet it was that damage that killed my brother, not the drugs, the symptom- why he took them why he won every poker and pool bet, played it fair or cheated for no reason at all, the hunger was for swagger and approval, so he died trying so hard to become what he already was. KK makes it more simplified and easy to take, part of his talent, and yet we can feel as deep as we wish about how this applies. My brother's tale is so twisted and my family, I am being paid to write the story. What a world, I'd have dull life, burn that money and have my brother back. rainspirit I am also sorry for your loss, for us both and still aren't we lucky to have known the time, it is golden beyond measure. Perhaps that's the point, to honor the moments that were. I should be dead 100X over, all the risks I take, and still it makes no sense at all. I walk on, better for having known him... another good man down, and I walk on... yes Billy D is actually Janis, KK for JJ... and we all walk on.

    peter rabbit

    I would have liked your brother. I hope to read your story, friend.

    Bungodancer Eadie

    Actually this isn't about or for Janis, but Me and Bobby McGee was/is.

  25. Ella Maree Turner

    mypartner was named after this song

  26. 0217ldp

    When I took a class in college on literary techniques, I understood why Kris' songs sounded so great. "Getting busted for the bad times and believing in the good"? There's a name for what he's doing-he must have taken the same course (JK). Getting by on getting high on women words and wine? Of the people, for the people and by the people is another literary technique

  27. e. rainspirit

    kris u wrote my brothers life story...(u didn't even know him) luv this man's music great lyricist one of the best