Shan of Milwaukee suggested that, in honor of Kris Kristofferson’s 80th birthday, we honor him with a Shadow, specifically “Sunday Morning Coming Down”. Done. There’s a great backstory* to this song and how Kris compelled Johnny Cash to record it.
Despite a Rhodes Scholarship and a Masters Degree, Kris took a job with Columbia Records as a janitor. He left a teaching post at West Point to take the Columbia Records job in Nashville with the hope of jump-starting a songwriting career, a decision that earned the scorn of his family, who disowned him; they never reconciled.
While working at Columbia, he’d see Johnny Cash around the halls and he’d give Johnny tapes of his songs, asking Johnny to listen to them. Johnny would throw the tapes into the lake on his estate, unheard. After continually getting rebuffed by the Man in Black, he decided to up the ante. While on a flight training session in a helicopter, he decided to land on Johnny’s front lawn and hand-deliver a tape of “Sunday Morning Coming Down”. Johnny listened, recorded the song and it became a #1 hit for him. True story.
*Credit to Justin Barney for telling me this story, a full two days before I decided to do it as a Shadow.
The original “Sunday Morning Coming Down” by Kris Kristofferson.
And the cover from Johnny Cash, a #1 hit for him.
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And, a bonus video from Comedy Central’s “Drunk History” retelling the story.