I think the true Poets Laureate of our country are songwriters, especially those categorized as COUNTRY songwriters. This one is by one of my favorites, who also produced such legendary masterpieces as For the Good Times and Help Me Make It Through the Night; and who of us hasn’t sung along lustily to those familiar lyrics, ‘Freedom’s just another word for Nothin’ left to lose . . .”
This one is called Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down---written by Kris Kristofferson, and first recorded by Johnny Cash---an instant and long-time hit.
Those songs were penned about sad times, and Kris KNOWS those times---those rough-grit Saturday nights between Hell and Salvation, with the tug downhill the stronger and the Sunday waking a blast of Hades---whether he lived through them or not. Look at him---listen to him---look at the wisdom in those deep-set, wise eyes---he MUST have lived that life, and must know whereof he speaks. And after having been a Rhodes Scholar with impressive degrees to his credit, an Army Ranger and helicopter pilot, and having a Golden Globe and other awards from the ninety-something movies he’s been in---out of all that, just this one song would have been enough.
This is not your usual Sunday song---it mentions church and family and home and children playing, and even the homey scent of fried chicken, but it’s a song mostly of the outsiders, the not-of-the-folds, the disenfranchised, disillusioned, dismissed, disowned.
It’s about the Sundays of those who are not OF the flocks flocking through those beautiful doors---but the ones who awaken bleary-eyed and unfocused and hungover and drained, with the hopeful sun blasting another day beneath their eyelids. They know It’s Just Another Day, but there’s a bleaker AIR to things, somehow, usually by dint of the Grinding Lonesomes after a night of Can’t Remembers, and somehow, somewhere in there, perhaps there is a recollection of a better time, of a bright-washed face and combed-down hair and a joyful dash into Sunday School, then home to a good Sunday Dinner.
They are the ones whom Outreach and Go Ye Therefore and Love thy Neighbor were coined for, the ones who NEED the bringing in, the ones who want to be brought, and the ones who’d have to be dragged scratching and scrabbling from the lonely bleak path they’re on.
The song tells of heartache and longings, and wishes for more, as the Sit-alone on Saturday night becomes the far more bereft Sunday Morning. I’ve known these people, the left-out and the leftovers and the left-behinds---they’re of us and with us, and There, But For The Grace of God . . .
Y’all know how I am about words, and these are some of the finest I’ve ever heard or read.