Features

Country Classics Revisited: Ray Price’s Immortal Version of Kris Kristofferson’s ‘For the Good Times’

Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

Through the combined talents of Kris Kristofferson and Ray Price, “For the Good Times” quickly became one of country music’s most impactful additions to popular culture. Written by Kristofferson in 1968, the song became an American pop standard in due time, thanks mostly to Price’s only top 40 crossover hit.

Beginning with the line “Don’t look so sad…,” Kristofferson wrote one of the most heartbreaking songs from a genre that, fair or not, is widely associated with heartbreak. Per Rolling Stone, it ranks 18th among the 40 saddest country songs of all time, edged out by Keith Whitley tribute “Go Rest High on That Mountain,” another Kristofferson original in “Sunday Morning Coming Down” and a few other all-time greats.

Its seminal recording remains a 1970 hit by Price. The voice of the Nashville sound wrung every drop of pain from its lyrics for his fifth number one country single. His recording won the Academy of Country Music (ACM) Song of the Year award, with the album named for the song lauded as the ACM Album of the Year. The song also netted a Grammy.

It’s off one of Price’s great Columbia Records singles made with producer Don Law. It features “Grazin’ in Greener Pastures” as its b-side. An early ’70s run of success followed, including a string of three number one singles (“I Won’t Mention It Again,” “She’s Got to Be a Saint” and “You’re the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me”) in three years. Without those songs, Willie Nelson, Joshua Hedley and others would probably still sing Price’s praises, but that final string of hits at least helped the singer’s contemporary status and bank account.

Over time, it became a country standard, covered by Nelson, Chet Atkins, Kenny Rogers, Glen Campbell, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Lynn Anderson, Anne Murray, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Joe Diffie and Jamey Johnson. Outside of country, it’s been interpreted by Frank Sinatra, Al Green, Elvis Presley, Andy Williams, Jerry Lee Lewis and others. Plus, it’s the song Michael Jackson sang at his mother’s birthday party in 1984.

Today, it’s a reminder that the Nashville sound that held back the outlaws wasn’t always a bad thing. It provided a platform for smooth-voiced singers like Price to take the works of Kristofferson and other songwriting prodigies to a mainstream audience, turning worthy talents into big names.

“For the Good Times” Lyrics

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 were burning

Lay your head upon my pillow
Hold your warm and tender body
Close to mine
Hear the whisper of the rain drops
Blowing 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 tomorrow
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 rain drops
Blowing soft against the window
And make believe you love me
One more time
For the good times

Now Watch: 10 Country Stars Who Are Veterans

recommended for you

Country Classics Revisited: Ray Price’s Immortal Version of Kris Kristofferson’s ‘For the Good Times’