Country newcomer Denny Strickland pays tribute to country icon Kris Kristofferson with an acoustic performance of “Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again)," premiering exclusively on The Boot.

Kristofferson recorded "Loving Her Was Easier" for his 1971 album, The Silver Tongued Devil and I, and it reached No. 26 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 4 on the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart. Roger Miller, Tompall & the Glaser Brothers, Waylon Jennings and Mark Chesnutt have also recorded the song. Its lyrics are intimate and straightforward, and Strickland's smooth vocals are deeply earnest: "Loving her was easier / Than anything I'll ever do again / Coming close together with a feeling / That I've never known before in my time," he sings.

While the song is a great fit for Strickland's voice, there's a larger reason he selected to perform it. The artist met Kristofferson at the Johnny Cash Music Festival in Jonesboro, Ark., in 2011, and the two hit it off immediately.

"I was so thankful that Kris took me under his wing the day we played the Johnny Cash Music Festival in Jonesboro, Ark., in 2011. My longtime manager, Marshall Grant (former bass player for Johnny’s band, the Tennessee Two), had fallen ill and was hospitalized, and I was on my own at the festival," Strickland recalls. "It turned out to be a pivotal day in my career."

He adds, "... "Loving Her Was Easier" was an easy choice and a nice way to pay tribute to Kris, who truly influenced my life."

The above video is part of Strickland's Cellar Sessions, filmed at popular Nashville speakeasy the Sutler. It is one of three acoustic performances of classic country songs, all of which the artist filmed as a followup to his Dive Sessions. Directed by Brian Harstine, the clip features Strickland along with guitar player Jason Jordan performing in a quiet, classy and rich atmosphere. Harstine explains that while a "classic, rusty-film look" was the goal of the Dive Sessions, this time around, he wanted to follow the "same style and tone" with a twist of something more updated and classy.

"The Sutler’s Cellar provided the backdrop for this look to come to life, giving that tone and feel we created from the first set a new life on screen," Harstine notes. "Denny’s style was chosen to match, creating a product that I hope the fans will truly connect with!"

Fans can find more information about Strickland on Twitter, Facebook and his official website. His music is for purchase on iTunes and Amazon.