‘I Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)‘ was Kenny Rogers‘ second single with his group The First Edition. It made the US Billboard Top 10 in 1968 and rode the crest of the psychedelic wave that was sweeping the music world at the time – “I tripped over a cloud and fell 8 miles high, tore my mind on the jagged sky.” Like, wow, man. The intro has backwards guitars, the solo is played by Glen Campbell (is there anything he didn’t play on in the 60s?) and the drums were played by Mickey Jones, well known to Dylan afficianados as the drummer who couldnae hack it on Dylan’s 1966 world tour with the Hawks.
So. Great pedigree. And a great song. About as far removed from ‘Islands In The Stream’, ‘The Gambler’ or ‘Coward Of The County’ as you could possibly hope for. Indeed, Jimi Hendrix called ‘Just Dropped In…‘ his favourite song ever. I wish Jimi had done a version. You just know it it would’ve sounded brilliant. I bet Jerry lee Lewis‘ version sounds the business as well. Too bad he canned it as soon as he recorded it. Or did he? No amount of poking about cyberspace has unearthed it for me, but maybe you’ve got a version knocking about somewhere. Over to you…
No funny comment here.
In the meantime, here’s 3 covers. All different, all fantastic. Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings recorded their version as a tribute to the sounds of late 60s Stax and Motown. It sounds like Lynn Collins or one of those James Brown Funky People women singers he often produced. You can see the video for it (don’t think it’s official but it’s great) over on YouTube where the grainy, fuzzy footage is supposed to look like an old VHS taped copy of Soul Train. I thought Sharon Jones had come up with a really great idea for an original cover until I found out that Bettye Lavette had covered the self same track in 1968. I bet Bettye’s sounds just like it (I’m off to seek it out) but I do like Sharon Jones’ attempt. This version has only been released on dead-hard-to-get 7″ (try eBay), but I’ve got one. And now you do too.
They were young, they ran free, they grew old gracefulleee…
Supergrass put their version on the b-side of the double a sided ‘Alright/Time’ single. So lots of people will own this, but many people may not even have played it, given that anyone who bought ‘Alright’ played it on repeat for the whole summer of 1995 and then never wanted to hear it again. Which is a shame, cos ‘Time‘ is a cracker’, and ‘Condition‘ (as their version is called) sounds just like a Supergrass track from the ‘I Should Coco’ era. Which it is, funnily enough. Here it is.
Scuffed, battered and full of character. Just like his face.
I’ve left possibly the best version till last. Like Kenny Rogers, Willie Nelson is considered a country singer, but his version of ‘…Condition…‘ is not really country per-se. It’s laid back, soulful and has an intro that is absolutely ripe for sampling. If Sharon Jones’ cover is the Saturday night version then Willie Nelson’s is the Sunday morning hangover cure. You can find it on his ‘Rainbow Connection’ album from 2001. Or get it here.