Sunday Morning Coming Down is a song written by Kris Kristofferson and recorded by several artists, most notably Johnny Cash. The song describes the feelings of loneliness and emptiness of a man who is wandering the streets on a Sunday morning, after a night of drinking and partying.
The song contrasts the man’s bleak situation with the normal activities of other people, such as going to church, having breakfast, or playing with children.
The song was first recorded by Ray Stevens in 1969, but it became a hit for Johnny Cash in 1970, when he performed it live at the Ryman Auditorium for his TV show. Cash’s version won the Country Music Association Award for Song of the Year in 1970 and reached No.1 on the Billboard US Country chart. Cash and Kristofferson also sang the song together on the 1978 Johnny Cash Christmas Show, showing their friendship and admiration for each other.
The song is considered one of Kristofferson’s best compositions and one of Cash’s signature songs. It has been covered by many other artists, such as Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, and Shawn Mullins. In 2021, Rolling Stone ranked it at No.476 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
Watch Kris Kristofferson & Johnny Cash – Sunday Morning Coming Down Below:
Kris said in an interview, “This song probably was the most directly autobiographical thing I had written. In those days I was living in a slum tenement that was torn down afterwards, but it was 25 dollars a month in a condemned building, and “Sunday Morning Coming Down” was more or less looking around me and writing about what I was doing. One time, some people broke into that place, and I had to call the police station to answer some questions about it, and the guy said, “Yeah, they really trashed the place when they went in there.” But I hadn’t noticed that it was any different. There were holes in the wall bigger than I was. It was quite a place, so “Sunday Morning Coming Down” is kind of more or less what I was living at that time. I guess it was depressing, I don’t know, but the chorus was kind of uplifting. … What I was really trying to do was to keep the feeling of loss and of sadness. For me at that time, it was the loss of my family and looking at a little kid swinging on a swing and his daddy pushing him. That was the feeling I wanted to get for the whole song. I think Sunday was the choice because the bars were closed in the morning and nobody was at work, so if you were alone, it was the most alone time…”