'Cause there's something in a Sunday that makes a body feel alone.
And there's nothing short a' dying that's half as lonesome as the sound
Of the sleeping city sidewalk and Sunday morning coming down.
- Refrain, Sunday Morning Coming Down, Johnny Cash, singer, 1970
On occasion, I am asked why I picked the title of this song as the lead to the title for my weekend blog. Well, certainly the title is appropriate to the occasion since it is specifically prepared for Sunday morning and the significance to me and so many others at the opening of the Lord's Day. If you listen to the words of the verses and the refrain sung by the late great Johnny Cash, you will feel his heart and soul pouring out in those words so well delivered by music. And while he wasn't the writer of the song, he obviously took it to his heart in preparation and delivery.
In the song which was written by Kris Kristofferson and first performed by this wonderful singer in 1970, Johnny sings of an older man, awaking on a Sunday morning alone and by himself. He is hung over from too much late night drinking and has a morning breakfast of beer and cigarettes, then goes outside for some fresh air and a walk to clear his head. It's the church hour and on his walk he smells the wonderful aroma of frying chicken and the voices of little children singing hymns and they remind him of his own childhood so many years ago. He is made aware of his shortfalls and his poor choice of lifestyle and he realizes that is why he is so alone. The song leaves the listener at a point where nothing has really changed for the man, but it also leaves us with hope that it might.
Did Johnny Cash sing this song so well because he saw himself in those words? All I can tell you is that he grew up musically inclined and started writing songs at age twelve. He did a little local performing on a radio station in his home state of Arkansas, but then entered the Air Force in 1950. He volunteered for service during the Korean War and also bought his first guitar and wrote Folsom Prison Blues during his service. He came home to gain fame in a few short years and by the late 1950s he was one of the top performers of his style of country music, unique and loved. It was noted by his rich baritone voice which all recognized. Anytime a Johnny Cash recording was played, we never had to ask who the singer was. We just knew it was Johnny Cash.
As success grew, so did his problems as long days and late hours led to dependence on drugs. And while his reputation as a very special singer continued, his music handlers noted his problem as he became hard to work with. His first wife divorced him over his drug use and he had some significant bouts with the law including an arrest in El Paso for trying to bring amphetamines into the United States. But his turnabout came in the latter 1960s with the help of June Carter, the former wife of one of his group members. She was a fundamentalist Christian who helped Johnny realize that he needed faith in his life and his turnabout and new life followed. So, in 1970, he sang the song that is the title of my Sunday blog and that's why I chose it, for I have always liked the song and the message it carries.
When you see it in my weekend title, I hope it will also send you an additional message of hope in addition to whatever approach I use in the blog. For the actions in the song and the life of the singer should give all of us hope. Whether we are lonely, down and out or totally lost, we always have a friend in Our Lord and Savior. All we have to do is open that rusty old hinge to our heart and let Him in with the help of the Holy Spirit. It worked for Johnny Cash, it worked for me and it will indeed work for everyone. God bless you all.