October 19

A Breaking-up Song, ”For The Good Times” by Ray Price

A Breaking-up Song, ”For The Good Times” by Ray Price 1

This hit was written by Kris Kristofferson and he started the song in 1968 during a drive from Nashville to the Gulf of Mexico. He hated the trip and on this particular drive, he developed the first verse and chorus of a song about the final encounter of a man and a woman who was breaking up. Actually, the storyline was personal. It was really about him and an ex-girlfriend.

In an interview with the Nashville Tennessean, given while Ray’s record was breaking through, Kristofferson spoke about the development of “For The Good Times” during his drive down to the Gulf. He devised the melody first, believing it to be one of the best he had ever come up with. Kris couldn’t wait to get to a guitar. He wondered what the chords were and if he could even play it. Continuing his drive, he assembled a portion of the lyrics, however, it was sometime later before he finished it.

After Kristofferson completed the song and sent to the publisher, Ray Pennington, a song promoter for Buckhorn Music, thought that the song might do well for Ray Price, who was touring at the time. For assistance in locating him, Pennington contacted Fred Foster, got hold of a copy of Price’s itinerary and found out that he was appearing at the Stardust Club in Odessa, Texas which was owned by an old friend of his. The Stardust had been one of Price’s favorite places to perform since the beginning of his career back in the early 1950s and he continued to frequently play there even after reaching stardom. When the demo on “For The Good Times” arrived, Price listened to it between shows and immediately decided to record the song just as soon as he got back to Nashville. As usual, he nailed it on the very first take with all the musicians present. Very little overdubbing was needed. Ray much preferred recording that way, as did most of the veteran hit-makers in Nashville at that time.

Initially, Price’s label (Columbia) released “For The Good Times” as the “B” side of “Grazin’ In Greener Pastures,” despite Ray’s contention that the song would be the hit. It wasn’t until pop singer Wayne Newton also recorded “For The Good Times” that the label changed its emphasis and began promoting Price’s version in earnest, which ended up selling a sensational 11 million copies.

In March of 1971, Price won his only Grammy award for the tune. That same year, the Academy of Country Music cited “For The Good Times” as Song of the Year and Single Record Of The Year. Additionally, the “For The Good Times” LP earned Album of the Year honors. Despite the enormous success of “For The Good Times.”


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