Album: Jesus Was a Capricorn (1972)
Charted: 16

Songfacts®:

  • In this song, Kris Kristofferson has an epiphany, asking Jesus why he has blessed him so. It came from a genuine revelation when he went to church with the country singer Connie Smith. Speaking in a CMT showcase, he told the story: "The night before we'd been down in Cookeville with a bunch of people, doing a benefit for Dottie West's High School band or something and then Connie took me over to church the next day to Jimmie Snow's church. And I had a profound religious experience during the session, something that never had happened to me before. And 'Why Me' came out of it.

    Everybody was kneeling down and Jimmie said something like if anybody's lost, please raise their hand. And I was kneeling there. I don't go to church a lot and the notion of raising my hand was out of the question and I thought, 'I can't imagine who's doing this.' And all of a sudden I felt my hand going up and I was hoping nobody else was looking because everybody had their head bent over praying.

    And then he said, 'If anybody is ready to accept Jesus, come down to the front of the church.' I thought that would never happen and I found myself getting up and walking down with all these people and going down there. And I don't really know what he said to me. He said something to me like, 'Are you ready to accept Jesus Christ in your life?' And I said: 'I don't know.' I didn't know what I was doing there. And he put me down, said, 'Kneel down here.' I can't even remember what he was saying but, whatever it was, was such a release for me that I found myself weeping in public and I felt this forgiveness that I didn't know I even needed."
  • Larry Gatlin and Rita Coolidge sang backup on this track. Kristofferson and Coolidge got married in 1973 and divorced in 1980.
  • Many artists have covered this gospel-tinged song, including Conway Twitty, Merle Haggard and George Jones. The title often appears as "Why Me, Lord?"
  • This was, by far, Kristofferson's biggest hit as an artist (as a songwriter, "Me And Bobby McGee" was his most successful). It was his only #1 on the Country chart, and also reached #16 on the Hot 100 - quite a feat for a song with a country/gospel flavor.
  • Elvis Presley sometimes sang this at concerts; he version appears on his 1974 album Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis and also on the compilation I Believe - The Gospel Masters.

    When Tom Jones was appearing with Elvis in 1968 he got frustrated by the way The King constantly sang this song. Jones recalled to NME May 19, 2012: "He kept singing, 'Why Me Lord?'. He just wouldn't let me get out of the room. He liked to sing all night. I had two shows to do the following day and I was trying to get out of the door... then he'd start singing it all over again."
  • Ray Charles and Johnny Cash recorded a duet of this song in 1981, featuring Cash on lead vocals and Charles delivering soulful backup. For unknown reasons, it wasn't released until the master tape was found in June 2009 at a storage facility in New York during research for the BIO Channel documentary, Ray Charles America. The song then appeared on record for the first time on the 2010 collection of Ray Charles' tracks, Rare Genius: The Undiscovered Masters.

    Cash wrote to Charles on December 11, 1981 concerning the recording: "I am so proud when I tell people that I have recorded a song with you. I hope you like this tape. I realize that the orchestration isn't big and I don't sing very good, but I think the thing has a feeling and a quality that the fans would really enjoy. I would like to release it as a single on CBS, with your permission, on an equal royalty share basis. Would this be acceptable to you?"

    Ray Charles and Johnny Cash did turn up on a record together three years later when their duet "Crazy Old Soldier," featured on Charles' 1984 album,Friendship.

Comments: 1

  • Anna Purvis from GaThis song wasn't written by Kris Kristofferson. Shame on him for not telling the truth. A woman in North Carolina was the person who wrote it. I won't tell her name out of respect for her family.
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