Now there was a song

johnny cash and ray stevens

Johnny Cash and Ray Stevens/photos submitted

By Doug Davis

This week in 1969: Marine chief Leonard Chapman ordered a halt to racial violence in corps; eighty three people died when an airliner and a small plane collided in Indiana; President Nixon ordered a resumption in bombing of North Viet Nam; and a singer/writer/performer from Clarksdale, Georgia had recorded what was to be his first charted country song.

Recording artists have varied opinions as to why certain records didn’t hit. Ray Stevens 1969 version of “Sunday Morning Coming Down” only made it to # 55 on the charts and Johnny Cash’s 1970 version of the song made it to number one. Stevens has his own idea as to why his recording of the song did not fare better. “I think my version of ‘Sunday Morning Coming Down’ might have been over-produced. Johnny Cash was red hot at the time and made a Johnny Cash record of that song while I was just a sometimes country performer. But I recorded the song because I really liked it. I thought the song was very commercial for its time.”

Ray Stevens’ Monument Records version of “Sunday Morning Coming Down” made the charts November 1, 1969 and peaked at number 55. It was his first charted country song and on the charts for six weeks. It also scored a number 61 on the pop charts.

The Johnny Cash version of the song made the charts September 5, 1970 and made it to number one where it stayed for two weeks. It was his 71st charted song and on the charts for 15 weeks. His Columbia Records single also made it to number 46 on the pop charts.

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