Jump to content

Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down"
Single by Ray Stevens
from the album Have a Little Talk with Myself
B-side"The Minority"
StudioMonument Recording, Nashville, Tennessee
GenrePop, country
Songwriter(s)Kris Kristofferson
Producer(s)Jim Malloy, Ray Stevens
Ray Stevens singles chronology
"Along Came Jones"
"Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down"
"Have a Little Talk with Myself"

"Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down" is a song written by Kris Kristofferson that was recorded in 1969 by Ray Stevens before becoming a No.1 hit on the Billboard US Country chart for Johnny Cash.


Stevens' version of the song reached No.55 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart and No.81 on the Hot 100 pop chart in 1969. In 2021, it was listed at #476 on Rolling Stone's "Top 500 Best Songs of All Time".[1] It also appeared on the author's own album Kristofferson.

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."[2]

Critical reception[edit]

In 2024, Rolling Stone ranked the song at #96 on its 200 Greatest Country Songs of All Time ranking.[3]

Johnny Cash version[edit]

"Sunday Morning Coming Down"
Single by Johnny Cash
from the album The Johnny Cash Show
B-side"I'm Gonna Try to Be That Way"
GenreCountry, folk
Songwriter(s)Kris Kristofferson
Producer(s)Bob Johnston
Johnny Cash singles chronology
"What Is Truth"
"Sunday Morning Coming Down"
"Flesh and Blood"

The biggest success on disc for the song came from a Johnny Cash performance that 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 30s 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, the recording 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 #1 on the country chart.[4]

This version was used in the Columbo episode Swan Song in 1974, in which Cash performed it during a garden party.

According to Kristofferson, network executives ordered Cash to change the line "I'm wishing Lord that I was stoned" when he performed the song on his TV show, but he refused to comply.[5]

Other notable versions[edit]

  • Gretchen Wilson recorded her take on the song for the Kris Kristofferson tribute The Pilgrim: A Celebration of Kris Kristofferson in 2006 to celebrate Kristofferson's 70th birthday.[6]

Chart performance[edit]

Ray Stevens[edit]

Chart (1969) Peak
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[7] 55
US Billboard Hot 100[8] 81
Canadian RPM Country Tracks[9] 46
Canadian RPM Top Singles[10] 59

Johnny Cash[edit]

Chart (1970) Peak
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[11] 1
US Billboard Hot 100[12] 46
US Billboard Adult Contemporary[13] 13
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 1
Canadian RPM Top Singles 30


  1. ^ "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. 2021-09-15. Retrieved 2022-07-03.
  2. ^ Kris Kristofferson On Writing For — And Outliving — His Idols
  3. ^ "The 200 Greatest Country Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. May 24, 2014.
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book Of Top 40 Country Hits: 1944-2006 (second ed.). Record Research. p. 75.
  5. ^ Commentary on DVD release The Johnny Cash TV Show 1969-1971, Sony Columbia Legacy, 2007
  6. ^ "Wilson Covers "Sunday Morning Coming Down"". CMT. Retrieved 2017-10-04.
  7. ^ "Ray Stevens Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard.
  8. ^ "Ray Stevens Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  9. ^ "RPM Top 50 Country Singles - December 13, 1969" (PDF).
  10. ^ "RPM Top 100 Singles - November 8, 1969" (PDF).
  11. ^ "Johnny Cash Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard.
  12. ^ "Johnny Cash Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  13. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 44.