Mesmerizing duet from the 1978 Johnny Cash Christmas special

Perhaps you’ve daydreamed about hosting your own Christmas special on television and maybe singing some of your own songs, not just standard holiday music. In the age of the internet, anyone can post their own videos, but back in the day, you had to earn the privilege. Johnny Cash certainly did, as we’ll see in a number from his Christmas special that aired on CBS in 1978.

Johnny Cash was one of the best-selling music artists of all time. His distinctive bass-baritone voice, tremendous musical talent, and skill as a “crossover” artist eventually landed him in three halls of fame: rock, country, and gospel. Cash was known as “the man in black” because of his preferred stage wardrobe, part of his “outlaw country” image. Although he was arrested several times and struggled with substance abuse, Cash never actually had to serve a prison sentence. Nevertheless, prison reform was a cause he supported, even discussing the matter with Richard Nixon during a visit to the White House in 1971.

Kris Kristofferson, a notable country and gospel talent in his own right, joined Johnny Cash on the 1978 Christmas special to perform “Sunday Morning Coming Down.” Kristofferson was flat broke when he wrote the song, which turned out to be a major breakthrough for his career. As he later said, it “opened up a whole lot of doors for me. So many people that I admired, admired it. Actually, it was the song that allowed me to quit working for a living.”

We’ve posted the video of Cash and Kristofferson’s performance of “Sunday Morning Coming Down” for you below. The song is all about suffering a brutal hangover and it neither demonizes nor celebrates substance abuse. Enjoy the music but take it easy with the eggnog!

How did you like this classic country performance from way back in 1978? We’d love to hear from you in the comments at Facebook. Don’t forget to like and share!