Written by country music "outlaw" Mickey Newbury as a song about junkies, this was first recorded by Jerry Lee Lewis on a country album in 1967, but he vetoed releasing it as a single. Meanwhile some members of the New Christy Minstrels (including Kenny Rogers) broke away to form their own group to do an elective mix of pop, rock and country songs. The idea was to have four lead singers in the group, each singing 3 songs on the album, which would provide 4 different sounds to choose from. In addition to Rogers, the group's vocalists were Mike Settle, Terry Williams and Thelma Camacho.
The group was produced by Mike Post, who went on to fame as a TV theme song writer, writing the opening music for L.A. Law, Law & Order, Magnum P.I. and many others. In an interview with the Archive of American Television, Post recalls disliking Rogers as a singer, saying, "I didn't know what he brought to the party." When the group needed another song to complete the album, Rogers brought in the Jerry Lee Lewis version of "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)," which Post described as "Dope and Roll." They decided to perform it as a psychedelic song, and it became a hit and helped establish Rogers as a star. Said Post, "What became the hit but the last thing in with the guy who I thought was the least talented. Shows what I know."
Post gathered some of the top studio musicians in the area, including Glen Campbell and Hal Blaine, to do the backing and used tricks innovated by The Beatles, like phasing and backward mastering, to give the song the trippy feel that was popular at the time.
This was released in 1968 to a lukewarm reception, but when the group appeared on the Smothers Brothers show to lip-sync in a psychedelic video, the song shot into the top 10.
According to Kenny Rogers, Jimi Hendrix once told him that this was his all-time favorite song.
The song can be heard, almost in its entirety, during a psychedelic dream sequence in the Coen Brothers' 1998 film The Big Lebowski.