If you’ve seen the unedited version of Ken Burns’ docu-series Country Music, you’ll already know the extraordinary story of how this morning’s song came about.
Kristofferson relates how he went with friends to a church service; he had never thought of needing help, but he was at a low point in his life. When the pastor asked the congregation, “Is anybody feeling lost?” “Up goes my hand,” Kristofferson says. The Pastor then asked, “Are you ready to accept Christ? Kneel down there.” “I’m kneeling there,” Kristofferson continues, “and I carry a big load of guilt around…and I was just out of control, crying. It was a release. It really shook me up.” Kristofferson later said, “It was just a personal thing I was going through at the time. I had some kind of experience that I can’t even explain.”
Shortly afterwards, he recorded this Larry Gatlin composition, which appears as the closing track on his 1973 album Jesus Was A Capricorn, and features Gatlin and soon-to-be Mrs Kristofferson, Rita Coolidge, on backing vocals. It went on to be his biggest ever selling song, and is just stunning, irrespective of your views on religion: