Why Me (Kris Kristofferson song)
|Single by Kris Kristofferson|
|from the album Jesus Was a Capricorn|
|Recorded||July 8, 1972|
|Label||Monument Records 31909|
|Kris Kristofferson singles chronology|
Kristofferson had become the toast of Nashville in the early 1970s, with the massive success of compositions including "For the Good Times," "Me and Bobby McGee," "Sunday Morning Coming Down," "Help Me Make It Through the Night" and many other songs. He had a hit of his own as well, with "Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I'll Ever Do Again)."
"Why Me" was recorded by Kristofferson in 1972, and features backing vocals by soon-to-be wife Rita Coolidge and up-and-coming singer-songwriter Larry Gatlin. It was included on the album, Jesus Was a Capricorn and, in 1973, the song became the biggest hit of his career.
According to country music historian Bill Malone, Kristofferson wrote the song during an emotionally low period of his life after having attended a religious service conducted by the Rev. Jimmie Rogers Snow. Wrote Malone, "'Why Me, Lord'" - as the song is sometimes known - "may seem greatly out of character for Kristofferson, but it can be interpreted as his own personal religious rephrasing of 'Sunday Morning Coming Down.' In this case, he is 'coming down' not from drugs, but from the whole hedonistic euphoria of the (1960s)." Malone also described Kristofferson's gruff vocal styling as "perfect" for the song, since "he sounds like a man who has lived a lot but is now humbling himself before God."
Kristofferson met June Carter Cash, and Johnny Cash in a hotel room in 1972 wanting to play them two songs he had written. Kristofferson had just attended a rough screening of a movie Johnny and June were heavily involved in entitled, "Gospel Road." According to Johnny Cash's book, "The Man in Black" Larry Gatlin sang a song called, "Help Me" at the Evangel Temple which inspired Kristofferson to write the song. Kristofferson also played Cash the song, "Burden of Freedom" which was used in, "Gospel Road."
Recognition and awards
"Why Me" was Kristofferson's lone major country hit as a solo recording artist, reaching No. 1 of Billboard magazine's Hot Country Singles chart in July 1973. The song, despite peaking only at No. 16 of the Billboard Hot 100, had, to that time, one of the longer runs (19 weeks) in the top 40 and the most chart reversals (6) in one run on the Hot 100. As a result, ironically, the song managed to be ranked as the second most popular Hot 100 single of 1973.
Other notable performances
Elvis Presley incorporated the song, titled as "Why Me Lord", into his live shows beginning in January 1974 up until his last concert tour. It was first released on the live album, Elvis Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis in June 1974. The recording is from his March 20, 1974 concert in Memphis, Tennessee. He often introduced the song for J.D. Sumner to sing "one of his favorite songs." Sumner would sing the verses and Elvis would join on the chorus along with the back-up singers. He also recorded the other side of the single, "Help Me", written by Larry Gatlin in December 1973 and which remained part of his live shows as well.
|Canadian RPM Adult Contemporary Tracks||23|
|Canadian RPM Country Tracks||1|
|Canadian RPM Top Singles||19|
|Dutch Top 40||31|
|U.S. Billboard Hot 100||16|
|U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks||28|
|U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles||1|
"Don't Fight the Feelings of Love"
by Charley Pride
|Billboard Hot Country Singles
July 7, 1973
"Love Is the Foundation"
by Loretta Lynn
by Tom T. Hall
|RPM Country Tracks
July 14, 1973
- In addition to Kristofferson's hit (BMI Work #1670077), BMI lists over 190 songs with the title, "Why Me" or "Why Me Lord."
- A 2010 obituary for Minnesotan Albin Otto Marlyn Christianson noted, "Albin... played the organ and wrote many songs, one of which was published by Kris Kristopherson, “Why me, Lord.”
||Constructs such as ibid., loc. cit. and idem are discouraged by Wikipedia's style guide for footnotes, as they are easily broken. Please improve this article by replacing them with named references (quick guide), or an abbreviated title. (July 2010)|
- Malone, Bill, "Classic Country Music: A Smithsonian Collection" (booklet included with Classic Country Music: A Smithsonian Collection 4-disc set). Smithsonian Institution, 1990, p. 66-67.
- Whitburn, Joel, "The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits," 8th ed. Billboard Books, Watson-Guptill Publications, New York, 2004.
- [dead link]
- Elvis: A Life In Music by Ernst Jorgensen
- BMI Repertoire (link). Accessed 2011 July 30.
- "Albin Christianson, 85", Fergus Falls (MN) Journal (link) 2010 February 25 edition - Obituaries. Accessed 2011 July 30.
- Whitburn, Joel, Top Country Songs 1944-2005 - 6th Edition (2006).
- Whitburn, Joel, Top Pop Singles: 1955-2006 (2007).