Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Kris Kristofferson

Sunday Morning Coming Down

First recorded by Ray Stevens (US #81/C&W #55 1969).
Other hit version by Johnny Cash (C&W #1 1970).
Also recorded by Kris Kristofferson (1970).

From the wiki: “‘Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down’ was written by Kris Kristofferson and was first recorded in 1969 by Ray Stevens, for his album Kristofferson, whose production reached #55 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart and #81 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart.

“The most successful version of the song originated from a Johnny Cash performance, taped live at the Grand Ole Opry’s Ryman Auditorium during a July 1970 recording his CBS TV variety show, The Johnny Cash Show, as part of a ‘Ride This Train’ segment, which was broadcast as the first episode of the Season Two. A companion album was then released by CBS Records in October 1970, with ‘Sunday Morning Coming Down’ issued as the promotional single. Both the album and the single topped the Country music charts, and won the Country Music Association Award for Song of the Year in 1970.

Lovin’ Her Was Easier (Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again)

Written and first recorded by Kris Kristofferson (US #26/MOR #4/CAN #21 1971).
Other hit versions by Roger Miller (C&W #28 1971), Tompall & the Glaser Brothers (C&W #2 1981).

From the wiki: “Lovin’ Her Was Easier (Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again)” is a song written and recorded by Kris Kristofferson for his 1971 album The Silver Tongued Devil and I. Released as a promotional single, Kristofferson’s recording did not chart as a country single, but did crossover to the Hot 100 (#28) and Adult Contemporary (#4) charts.

“The song was also released in 1971 by Roger Miller, who included it on his album The Best of Roger Miller and using ‘Lovin’ Her Was Easier (Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again)’ as a promotional single in July 1971, charting in the Country Top-30.

One Day at a Time

First recorded by Marilyn Sellars (US #37/C&W #19 1974).
Other hit versions by Gloria Sherry (IRE #1 1978), Lena Martell (UK #1 1979), Cristy Lane (C&W #1/CAN #10/NZ #5 1981).

From the wiki: “‘One Day at a Time’ was written by Marijohn Wilkin and Kris Kristofferson (although Kristofferson was a bit embarrassed with this co-credit; recalls he merely shared the same room while Marijohn wrote it, perhaps helping out with a lyric line one or two). It has been recorded by over 200 artists and has reached #1 in several countries.

“The song was first recorded by Country singer Marilyn Sellars in 1974 and released as a single to modest success. Irish singer Gloria Sherry, performing professionally as ‘Gloria’, recorded ‘One Day at a Time’, releasing it as a single in August 1977. Her recording remained on the Irish charts for the rest of the year, throughout 1978 and well into 1979 – peaking at #1 (over a year after it had first entered the chart) and spent a total of 90 weeks in the Irish Top 30 – the longest run by any song in Irish chart history. Meanwhile, Lena Martell’s 1979 recording topped the UK singles chart.

Me and Bobby McGee

First recorded by Roger Miller (C&W #12 1969).
Other hit versions by Gordon Lightfoot (US #13/CAN #1 1970), Janis Joplin (US #1 1971). Jerry Lee Lewis (US #40/MOR #39/CAN #50 1971).
Also recorded by Kenny Rogers & the First Edition (1969), Kris Kristofferson (1970), The Statler Brothers (1970).

From the wiki: “Roger Miller was the first artist to record and to have a hit with ‘Me and Bobby McGee’, written by Kris Kristofferson (‘Help Me Make Through the Night‘, ‘Lovin’ Her Was Easier (That Anything I’ll Ever Do Again‘) and Fred Foster, peaking with it at #12 on the US Country chart in 1969.

“Kenny Rogers & the First Edition then covered the song (with Rogers on lead vocals), releasing it in on their album Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town in 1969. Gordon Lightfoot’s 1970 recording hit #13 on the US pop chart and #1 country in his native Canada in 1970, and was also a Top-10 hit in South Africa in 1971.

“Just a few days before her death in October 1970, Janis Joplin covered the song for inclusion on her forthcoming Pearl album. Kristofferson had previously sung the song for Joplin, and singer Bob Neuwirth had taught it to her. Kristofferson, however, did not know Joplin had recorded ‘Me and Bobby McGee’ until after her death – the first time he heard it was the day after she died. Joplin’s version topped the charts in 1971 to become her only #1 single and, in 2004, her recording of ‘Me and Bobby McGee’ was ranked #148 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Kristofferson would record an arrangement of his own song for his 1970 debut album, Kristofferson.

Help Me Make It Through the Night

Written and first recorded by Kris Kristofferson (1970).
Hit versions by Sammi Smith (US #8/C&W #1 1971), Joe Simon (US #69/R&B #13 1971), Gladys Knight & The Pips (US #33/R&B #13/UK #11 1972).
Also recorded by Elvis Presley (1971), Joan Baez (1971), Jerry Lee Lewis (1971), Dottie West (1971), Bryan Ferry (1974).

From the wiki: “Kris Kristofferson wrote ‘Help Me Make It’ while sweeping floors and emptying ashtrays at Columbia Records studios in Nashville, and said that he got the inspiration for the song from an Esquire magazine interview with Frank Sinatra. When asked what he believed in, Frank replied, ‘Booze, broads, or a Bible…whatever helps me make it through the night.’