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'For the Good Times': The Story Behind Ray Price's Biggest Crossover Hit

AP Photo/Dr. Scott M. Lieberman, File

Through the combined talents of songwriter Kris Kristofferson and silky-voiced singer 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 it being Price's only Top 40 crossover hit.

Beginning with the line "Don't look so sad...," Kristofferson wrote one of the most heartbreaking love songs from a genre that, cliche 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 No. 1 country single. His recording won the Academy of Country Music (ACM) Song of the Year award, with the studio album bearing its name lauded as the ACM Album of the Year. Price's hit also netted a Grammy.

"For the Good Times" and B-side "Grazin' in Greener Pastures" made for a jukebox-friendly record, produced for Columbia Records by producer Don Law. An early '70s run of success followed, including a string of three No. 1 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.

Over time, "For the Good Times" became a country standard, covered by Willie Nelson, Chet Atkins, Kenny RogersGlen Campbell, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Lynn Anderson, Anne MurrayDolly PartonJohnny Cash, Joe Diffie and Jamey Johnson. It's also been interpreted by Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, Al Green, Elvis Presley, Andy Williams, Jerry Lee Lewis and others.

Today, it's a reminder that the Nashville Sound that held back more ballyhooed outlaws wasn't always a bad thing. It provided a platform for dynamic singers like Price to take the works of Kristofferson and other songwriting giants to a mainstream audience, turning worthy talents into household names.

This post was originally published in 2018.

'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

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'For the Good Times': The Story Behind Ray Price's Biggest Crossover Hit