Kris Kristofferson is one of the most prolific songwriters in the history of country music. The 78-year-old has released more than 25 albums and over 30 singles, with some of his songs recorded by other high-profile artists, including Bob Dylan, Roger Miller, Janis Joplin and George Jones, among others.

But the tunesmith, who spent several years in the Army before switching to music, says his music career may have never even got off the ground if not for a chance meeting with one of country music's biggest stars.

"When I was in the Army, I was one of two guys who were in Germany that volunteered to go to Vietnam, but it was turned down," he recalls to Phoenix New Times. "I was supposed to teach literature at West Point, which would have been a great assignment, but, thank God, I went to Nashville and shook Johnny Cash's hand when I was still in uniform.

"It just changed my life. It electrified me, and I knew that was where I belonged," Kristofferson adds. "I resigned my commission and got out of the Army."

The Country Music Hall of Fame member says he has never regretted his decision.

"I don't feel like it is a job," he says. "For some reason, for me, my songs are kind of like my children. I love 'em, you know, but I have no control. After they're born, the song's out there. They could be sung by hundreds of people."

Kristofferson has also had success as an actor, starring in several hit movies, including 'Pat Garreett and Billy the Kid,' 'A Star is Born,' 'Heaven's Gate' and many more. But for Kristofferson, music has always been his first love.

"I can remember making up songs when I was just a little boy" he recalls. "I didn't have a doubt in my mind when I went to Nashville and hung out ... on 16th and 17th Avenue South, and it just -- it saved my life."