Kristofferson originally wrote this song about Johnny Cash's struggles with addiction for a sobriety party in the 1970s. He explained to Billboard magazine: "Everyone was supposed to say something inspirational, so I wrote a song. I tried to record this once before with Willie Nelson and my band. When I sang the chorus, they echoed me when I would sing 'Good morning John.' When I got to the line that said 'I love you John,' Willie said 'He loves you John' and we all cracked up laughing. We never finished it, so I finished it myself."