Johnny Cash – Sunday Morning Coming Down


Well I woke up Sunday morning
With no way to hold my head, that didn’t hurt
And the beer I had for breakfast wasn’t bad
So I had one more for dessert
Then I fumbled in my closet through my clothes
And found my cleanest dirty shirt
Then I washed my face and combed my hair
And stumbled down the stairs to meet the day

I’d smoked my mind the night before
With cigarettes and the songs I’d been pickin’
But I lit my first and watched a small kid
Playin’ with a can that he was kicking
Then I walked across the street
And caught the Sunday smell of someone’s fryin’ chicken
And it took me back to somethin’
That I’d lost somewhere, somehow along the way

On a Sunday morning sidewalk
I’m wishing Lord that I was stoned
Cause there’s something in a Sunday
That makes a body feel alone
And there’s nothin’ short of dyin’
That’s half as lonesome as the sound
Of a sleepin’ city sidewalk
And Sunday mornin’ comin’ down

In the park I saw a daddy
With a laughin’ little girl who he was swingin’
And I stopped beside a Sunday school
And listened to the songs they were singin’
Then I headed down the street
And somewhere far away a lonely bell was ringin’
And it echoed thru the canyon
Like the disappearing dreams of yesterday

On a Sunday morning sidewalk
I’m wishing Lord that I was stoned
Cause there’s something in a Sunday
That makes a body feel alone
And there’s nothin’ short of dyin’
That’s half as lonesome as the sound
Of a sleepin’ city sidewalk
And Sunday mornin’ comin’ down


Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down” is a song written by Kris Kristofferson that was popularized in 1969 by Ray Stevens before becoming a number one hit for Johnny Cash.


Stevens’ version of the song reached number 55 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart and number 81 on the Hot 100 pop chart in 1969. It also appeared on the author’s own album Kristofferson .

Johnny Cash’s version

The biggest success for the song came from the Johnny Cash performance, which had been taped live at the Ryman Auditorium during a taping of The Johnny Cash Show as part of a “Ride This Train” segment, with filmed background visuals showing a down and out wanderer roaming around the Public Square area of Shelbyville, Tennessee. Cash introduced the song with the following monologue:

“You know, not everyone who has been on ‘the bum’ wanted it that way. The Great Depression of the 30’s set the feet of thousands of people—farmers, city workers—it set ’em to ridin’ the rails. My Daddy was one of those who hopped a freight train a couple of times to go and look for work. He wasn’t a bum. He was a hobo but he wasn’t a bum. I suppose we’ve all….all of us ‘been at one time or another ‘drifter at heart’, and today like yesterday there’s many that are on that road headin’ out. Not searchin’ maybe for work, as much as for self-fulfillment, or understanding of their life…trying to find a *meaning* for their life. And they’re not hoppin’ freights much anymore. Instead they’re thumbin’ cars and diesel trucks along the highways from Maine to Mexico. And many who have drifted…including myself…have found themselves no closer to peace of mind than a dingy backroom, on some lonely Sunday morning, with it comin’ down all around you.”

With the monologue edited off, it would appear on the soundtrack LP The Johnny Cash Show the following year, as well as being issued as a single (Columbia Records 4-45211). Cash’s version won the Country Music Association Award for Song of the Year in 1970 and hit number one on the country chart.[1]

Other versions

It was included on Lynn Anderson‘s 1970 album Rose Garden.

Sammi Smith recorded a version for her 1970 album He’s Everywhere.

Frankie Laine recorded a version for his 1977 British album Life is Beautiful.

Shawn Mullins included a version on his 1998 album Soul’s Core.[2]

Crooked Fingers, fronted by Eric Bachmann of Archers of Loaf, had been playing the song in concert for years before recording it for their 2002 covers album Reservoir Songs.

In 2006 the band Me First And The Gimme Gimmes included a version on their album Love Their Country.

Jerry Lee Lewis recorded a version for his 2010 album Mean Old Man.

Willie Nelson included it on his 1978 album Willie Nelson Sings Kristofferson, and more recently it appeared on his 2011 album Remember Me, Vol. 1.[citation needed]

Gretchen Wilson recorded her version of the song on the Kris Kristofferson tribute The Pilgrim: A Celebration of Kris Kristofferson in 2006 to celebrate Kristofferson’s 70th birthday.[3]

According to Kristofferson, Cash was told to change the line “I’m wishing Lord that I was stoned” when he performed it on his TV show, but he refused to comply.[4] In a 2013 interview, Kristofferson said the song “opened up a whole lot of doors for me. So many people that I admired, admired it. Actually, it was the song that allowed me to quit working for a living.”[5]

Ray Stevens

Chart (1969) Peak
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[6] 55
US Billboard Hot 100[7] 81
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 46
Canadian RPM Top Singles 59

Johnny Cash

Chart (1970) Peak
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[8] 1
US Billboard Hot 100[9] 46
US Billboard Adult Contemporary[10] 13
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 1
Canadian RPM Top Singles 30
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