Cue the Inspiration: “For the Good Times”

This morning I was listening to the remarkable new double-CD by Jamey Johnson, “The Guitar Song,” and toward the end he covered one of the Truly Great Songs, Kris Kristofferson’s 1970 classic, “For the Good Times.”

1970, Monterey Pop Festival.

Photo: Robert Altman.

First, there’s that brilliant opening: “Don’t look so sad, I know it’s over.”

The lyric instantly pulls you into the moment. The ache, the beauty, the sadness of love lived and love lost. Has any song captured it better?

And a couple of lines later, “There’s no need to watch the bridges that we’re burning.”

But it’s the chorus that’s perfection, that neat turn at the end, like a dagger twisting in the heart: “Hear the whisper of the raindrops/Blowin’ soft against the window/And make believe you love me one more time.”

It’s been a widely-covered song for obvious reasons. Ray Price got there first, and his single reached #1 in the country music charts and was later named “Song of the Year” by the Academy of Country Music. There are versions by Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson, Perry Como, Al Green, and more.

Wait. Al Green? Really? Oh yes. Here he is on “Soul Train”:

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

FOR THE GOOD TIMES

Don’t look so sad, I know it’s over.
But life goes on, and this old world will keep on turning.
Let’s just be glad we had some time to spend together.
There’s no need to watch the bridges that we’re burning.

Lay your head upon my pillow.
Hold your warm and tender body close to mine.
Hear the whisper of the raindrops,
Blowin’ soft against the window,
And make believe you love me one more time,
For the good times.

I’ll get along; you’ll find another,
And I’ll be here if you should find you ever need me.
Don’t say a word about tommorrow or forever,
There’ll be time enough for sadness when you leave me.

Lay your head upon my pillow.
Hold your warm and tender body close to mine.
Hear the whisper of the raindrops,
Blowin’ soft against the window,
And make believe you love me one more time,
For the good times.

Johnny Cash’s version was released posthumously, just this year, and of course the circumstances — sung by this particular legend, at this point in his long storied life — bring a new layer of meaning to it:

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

Kristofferson may be an underrated songwriter in some quarters, and if you haven’t paid him much attention, I advise you to start by giving a close listen to “Sunday Morning Coming Down” . . .

Here’s the master, at age 74. He never had much of a voice, but the guy can write.

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

SUNDAY MORNING COMING DOWN

Well I woke up Sunday morning,
With no way to hold my head that didn’t hurt.
And the beer I had for breakfast wasn’t bad,
So I had one more for dessert.
Then I fumbled through my closet for my clothes,
And found my cleanest dirty shirt.
An’ I shaved my face and combed my hair,
An’ stumbled down the stairs to meet the day.

I’d smoked my brain the night before,
On cigarettes and songs I’d been pickin’.
But I lit my first and watched a small kid,
Cussin’ at a can that he was kicking.
Then I crossed the empty street,
‘n caught the Sunday smell of someone fryin’ chicken.
And it took me back to somethin’,
That I’d lost somehow, somewhere along the way.

On the Sunday morning sidewalk,
Wishing, Lord, that I was stoned.
‘Cos there’s something in a Sunday,
Makes a body feel alone.
And there’s nothin’ short of dyin’,
Half as lonesome as the sound,
On the sleepin’ city sidewalks:
Sunday mornin’ comin’ down.

In the park I saw a daddy,
With a laughin’ little girl who he was swingin’.
And I stopped beside a Sunday school,
And listened to the song they were singin’.
Then I headed back for home,
And somewhere far away a lonely bell was ringin’.
And it echoed through the canyons,
Like the disappearing dreams of yesterday.

On the Sunday morning sidewalk,
Wishing, Lord, that I was stoned.
‘Cos there’s something in a Sunday,
Makes a body feel alone.
And there’s nothin’ short of dyin’,
Half as lonesome as the sound,
On the sleepin’ city sidewalks:
Sunday mornin’ comin’ down.

Lastly, I leave you with this little discovery. It’s a homemade video made by a young girl after her boyfriend broke up with her. It’s sweet, beautiful, youthful, innocent, heartfelt and, to date, has gotten more than 70,000 views.

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *