Sunday Morning Coming Down

Album: The Johnny Cash Show (1970)
Charted: 46

Songfacts®:

  • Kris Kristofferson wrote this song while living in a run-down tenement in Nashville when he was working as a janitor for Columbia Records - a strange occupation considering he had a master's degree from Oxford University and risen to the rank of captain in the US Army. But Kristofferson wanted to be a songwriter, so he turned down a professor position at the US Military Academy at West Point and swept floors at Columbia waiting for his break.

    In the military Kristofferson learned to fly planes and he worked as a commercial helicopter pilot in Nashville, and the story of how he got his demo tape of this song to Cash has become legend: He flew his National Guard helicopter to Cash's front yard, where he landed and delivered the tape. The story is often skewed to imply that Cash had never met Kristofferson, but they had known each other since 1965. In a 2008 interview with the San Luis Obispo Tribune, Kristofferson explained: "I knew John before then. I'd been his janitor at the recording studio, and I'd pitched him every song I ever wrote, so he knew who I was. But it was still kind of an invasion of privacy that I wouldn't recommend.

    To be honest, I don't think he was there. He had a whole story about me getting out of the helicopter with a tape in one hand and a beer in the other.

    John had a pretty creative memory but I would never have disputed his version of what happened because he was so responsible for any success I had as a songwriter and performer. He put me on the stage the first time I ever was, during a performance at the Newport Folk Festival."
  • This song is about a hangover, with Cash singing about "coming down" on a Sunday morning after being "stoned" on Saturday night. Many of Kris Kristofferson's songs deal with what happens after the fun, and it's usually not pretty. In this song, our hero puts on his cleanest dirty shirt, drinks a few beers, and heads out to face a lonely day.
  • This song was #1 on the Country charts for two weeks in September 1970. It was Kristofferson's first Country #1 as a writer.
  • In a 2009 Rolling Stone article about Kris Kristofferson that was written by Ethan Hawke, it explains that Kris made Johnny Cash listen to the song before removing the helicopter. After hearing it Cash said he "liked his songs so much that I would take them off and not let anybody else hear them."

    Cash recorded the song live on The Johnny Cash Show, and before the show, ABC censors asked him to change the lyrics, "Wishing, Lord, that I was stoned" to "Wishing, Lord, that I was home." Cash sang it the way Kristofferson wrote it, and even stressed the word "stoned."
  • The original version of this song was recorded by Ray Stevens in 1969. At the 2009 BMI Country Awards, where Kristofferson was honored as an icon, he recalled how Stevens took a chance on his tune, when he was still an unknown songwriter. "Nobody had ever put that much money and effort into recording one of my songs," Kristofferson said. "I remember the first time I heard it - he's a wonderful singer - I had to leave the publishing house and I just sat on the steps and wept because it was such a beautiful thing."

    Stevens added that he was drawn to the song because he felt Kristofferson had a "spark."

    "He was very talented, very smart and right on time with his style," Stevens recalled. "A lot of people since then have copied those songs that he put out so at this point in time it doesn't seem all that different. It still is of course. There are very few writers who get that spark at the right time."

Comments: 32

  • Seventhmist from 7th HeavenCash played the killer in an episode of "Columbo" just after this song was released and he sang it multiple times in it to increase sales.
  • Philip from Highland InTo me this song has always been about depression. The man in the song is using drugs or alcohol to aleviate the problems of life. Which is only a temporary fix. The line it "took me back to something. That I lost somewhere so how along the way." Makes me think he misses the innocence of his childhood or his family or even having a family. He is lonely.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn October 18th 1969, "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down" by Ray Stevens entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #94; it stayed on the chart for three weeks, peaking at #81...
    It reached #34 in Australia and #59 in Canada...
    He has had two #1 records on the Top 100 chart; "Everything Is Beautiful" for 2 weeks in 1970 and "The Streak" for 3 weeks in 1974...
    Between 1970 and 2002 he had thirty-three records on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart...
    Mr. Stevens, born Harold Ray Ragsdale, will celebrate his 76th birthday in three months on January 24th {2015}.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn August 23rd 1970, "Sunday Morning Coming Down" by Johnny Cash entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #62; and on September 27th, 1970 it peaked at #46 {for 1 week} and spent 7 weeks on the Top 100...
    And on October 4th, 1970 it reached #1 {for 2 weeks} on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart (was the 11th of 13th Number One records he would have on the Country chart between 1956 and 1976, plus he would have an additional 11 records peak at #2}...
    May the 'Man in Black'* R.I.P. {1932 - 2003}...
    *Note: His record titled "Man in Black" peaked at #3 on the Hot Country chart in 1971.
  • Jack from Santa Rosa, CaI was 17 when training for the Vietnam war at Ft. Benning Ga. in 1966. Many times I would take a walk by myself on a Sunday morning trying to sweat out the 3.5 beer I drank Saturday night. I missed my mom , brother and sisters. I wondered what its all about. Then I would sadden up to the point that the only place to go was to the beer hall and start over again. Some time later this song came on line and to this day it moves me to tears because it talks to me and others. I came home from Vietnam but others "gave all"!
    When I got to know Jehovah I found out "what its all about"
  • Tony from Vienna, WvI heard this song right before I went into the military in the early 1970's. I don't know why it moved me so much but it did. For me the song talks about our lost ways, and our lost times. Sunday morning coming down for those that have nothing to look forward to. God Bless Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson.
  • Syl from Moncton, NlRay Steven's version is my favourite ever.
  • Daphne from Ohio Valley, OhPersonally, I prefer hearing Kristofferson himself singing the song. Cash's version is good and all but Kris's version is just completely devistating! His rough "whiskey voice" makes it all the more convincing. I'm so glad i'm not the only one who feels Kris is overlooked far too often when it comes to his songwriting. The man is absolutley BRILLIANT and took songwriting to an entirely new depth. To me, he's the BEST...hands down.
  • Oldpink from New Castle, InNo fluff to be found here, nosiree!
    Damn, but didnt' Johnny's voice sound like an old steam locomotive coming down the tracks?
    Couple that booming bass voice with Kristofferson's haunting lyrics, and you have a timeless classic.
    Sometimes, the best words are those that really hit harder with contradiction, as on this one "So I fumbled through my closet/Through my clothes and found my cleanest dirty shirt"
    Simply brilliant!
    Another example from Roger Waters: "Well, you wore out your welcome/With random precision"
  • Cd from Paragould Arkansas, Ar"And the beer I had for breakfast wasn't bad, so I had one more for dessert"

    In 1998 I began a ritual that I observe to this day. Every sunday morning I have one beer for breakfast and one mnore for dessert.
    Budweiser is my communion!
    Kristofferson was a rhoades scholar and one of the greatest songwriters ever. And only Cash could do this song justice!
  • Leftykc from St Joseph, Mohe was told when he performed it live, not to use the word "stoned" but he did anyway...
  • Nathan from Defiance, OhProof Kristofferson is one of the great songwriters this country produced. The whole feel of the song is very relatable and fits great with Cash's gritty style. Surely one of Cash's best songs. Why Kristofferson is relatively unknown to most music fans is a mystery.
  • Robert from Tionesta, PaI was 14 years old when I heard this song.I was delivering papers that morning listening to my transistor radio.I immediately fell in love with it and it was the start of my fascination with Johnny Cash.A great man who overcame adversity and drug problems.I could write a book.Later I found out Kris wrote that song and automatically became a big fan of his of course.We miss you John,Waylon,June and many others.Kris,if you ever read this I saw a show with you in Pittsburgh in 74.You,Rita and Billy Swan.What a great show that was.ty for the memories
  • Kurtiz from Oklahoma City, OkKris Kristofferson's orginal lyric was "I smoked so much the night before my mouth was like an ashtray i'd been licking".....AMaZIng SoNg
  • Ashleigh from 47116, InI like this song because when I was a little girl my mom used to listen to it. Now I listen to it every Sunday morning on my way to work at the cracker barrel. It is one of my ways of reminiscing.
  • Mark from Byrdstown, TnRay Stevens first recorded this song but it went nowhere.Who could visualize Stevens having the rep to record this song? No one.But when Cash released his live version recorded from his TV show it became a classic because Cash had lived it.Kristofferson is a damn genius,pure and simple.So was Johnny Cash.
  • P.a. from Paris, FranceMy favourite Kristofferson song along with Me And Bobby McGee.
    If you love the song and the guy, I highly recommend "Beyond Nashville" the third episode of the BBC documentary LOST HIGHWAY.
    He tells the story of the song, how he gave a bunch of songs to Cash through his guitar player Luther Perkins.
    He even explains what happened at the TV show Troy is talking about in his comment...the song was recorded there to be cut straight to a record.
    Turned out to be the 1970 song of the year at the Country Music Awards...
  • Adrian from Jacksonville, FlJohnny Cash eventually got a lot more than "religion" -- he personally got Jesus Christ in his heart, sang in my church and other churches all over, he's been on Billy Graham's platform many times -- he had a complete change of heart and life after becoming a Christian. "Any one who asks Jesus into their heart becomes a Christian, the old stuff stops and everything becomes new." 2 Corinthians 5:17
    "Sunday Morning (quit) Coming Down" after he was born over again! Adrian Travis
  • Chuck from Oneida, NyAwesome song.. I live on the oneida reservation up here in new york and theres a man named larry who is a alcoholic and wont be afraid to admit it.. this song/cd is always on at his house and if you can explain this man it one song this would be it... The way johhny sings is like "hey i dont care if i sound good im just gonna sing" and thats a admirable thing... plus johhny cash was involved a lot in uncovering the governments involvments with native americans so i respect him for that.. chuck "two feathers" george
  • Lill Kt from Sunny, NyI love this song because when I was little my dad used to wake me up to this song everyday when I would spend the night at his house. My dad is locked up now, not proud to say, but he is and this song means the world to me!!! So, if anyone loves this song, it would be me!!!
    RMA= KT, you will remember me when my name is in lights!!
  • Brian from Chicago, IlWhen I hear this song I think about people who have struggled with addiction and how they talk about a "moment of clarity." It seems this could be one of those moments that Kristofferson wrote about. I'm shocked that Cash didn't write it because it just seems to fit him so well.
  • Jon from Oakridge, OrGREAT SONG. One of Cashes best. Kudos to Kristofferson.
  • Ashley from Ottawa, CanadaBeautiful imagery and well written lyrics. I feel a sense of lonliness and despair yet a yearning for change. Possibilities could be the inability to battle past trials and tribulations that are deep rooted. However, the band aid of drug abuse isn't helping the person. Although, this song was written by Kris Kristofferson, it eerily resembles Johnny Cash's life.
  • Angela from Nashville, TnHonesty, pure honesty in these lyrics. Genuiness makes for great music, and this song definitly does that.
  • Ariel from Denver, CoJohnny Cash...I feel ya. I love that no matter what song is playing you can just visualize the setting.
  • Kevin from Canada, CanadaI perfom this great song. Its awesome when you growl ou the line "So I had one for dessert" It hit a minor chord there and it is truly an amazing song
  • Priscilla from Lonelytown, TnThis is a pretty good song because there is something in a Sunday that makes a body feel alone.
  • Jim from Warrington, EnglandThis is a fantastic song
  • Clarence from Brunswick, GaKris Kristofferson is the greatest songwriter ever. This song pulls you in and makes you feel what is being said.
  • Troy from Humphrey, Newhen Cash performed this song on his abc variety hour he was asked to sing "I'm wishin Lord that i was home" rather than the version that he sang which is "I'm wishin Lord that i was stoned." He thought that it was only right to Kris Kristofferson to sing it that way.
  • Chris from Halifax, Canadathe most beautiful song in the world
  • Andi from I Don't Like It Here, TxI really like this song! Really, Really like this song.
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