Before “Sunday Morning Comin’ Down” came into Johnny Cash’s hands, it was first recorded by Ray Stevens in 1969. His song was part of his fifth studio album Have a Little Talk with Myself. Steven’s version reached number fifty-five on the country chart.
Cash decided to record this song in the same year and released it the following year. What happened was another massive success for him and the songwriter Kris Kristofferson. Cash performed the song on his show, The Johnny Cash Show. The singles in his show were collated and released into a live album. The only single that received commercial success was “Sunday Morning Comin’ Down.”
The story of how Cash got to record the song has two versions. The first version was when Kristofferson used a commercial helicopter and landed at Cash’s front yard. There he gave his demo tape to Cash. Another version was from Cash. He said that he saw Kristofferson getting out of the helicopter holding the demo tape in one hand, and on his other hand is a bottle of beer.
The song tells the life of a man whom after getting high and drunk the other day, is now experiencing a down day or hangover. Instead of feeling better, he felt worse. He walks out of his house, and it makes him feel sadder as he sees people who are happy and are singing.
On a Sunday morning sidewalk
I'm wishing Lord that I was stoned
'Cause there's something in a Sunday
That makes a body feel alone
Kristofferson covered the song too on his first album Kristofferson. Other artists who covered the song were Lynn Anderson (1970), Sammi Smith (1970), Roy Clark, Willie Nelson (1978), Jerry Lee Lewis (2010), and Gretchen Wilson (2006).