Always on My Mind

"Always on My Mind" is a love song written by Wayne Carson, Johnny Christopher, and Mark James, first recorded by B.J. Thomas in 1970, and first released by Gwen McCrae (as "You Were Always on My Mind") in 1972. Brenda Lee also released a version in 1972. The song has been a crossover hit, charting in both the country and western and pop categories.

"Always on My Mind"
Song by B.J. Thomas
Released1970
Recorded1970
StudioAmerican Sound, Memphis
Songwriter(s)
"Always on My Mind"
Single by Brenda Lee
from the album Brenda
B-side"That Ain't Right"
ReleasedJune 1972
Format7-inch
Recorded1972
StudioAmerican Sound, Memphis
GenreCountry
Length2:50
LabelDecca
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)Owen Bradley
Brenda Lee singles chronology
"Misty Memories"
(1971)
"Always on My Mind"
(1972)
"Nobody Wins"
(1973)

AllMusic lists over 300 recorded releases of the song in versions by dozens of performers.[1] While Lee's version had stalled at number 45 on the US country chart in 1972, other performers reached the top 20 in the United States and elsewhere with their own versions: Elvis Presley in 1972; John Wesley Ryles in 1979; Willie Nelson's Grammy Award-winning version in 1982; and Pet Shop Boys in 1987.

CompositionEdit

The song was originally written in the key of B-flat major, and first recorded by B. J. Thomas in that key, and later by John Wesley Ryles in 1979. Brenda Lee recorded it in C major and Elvis recorded it in G major. Willie Nelson recorded the song in E-flat major but he played it in live concerts in the key of D major.

Elvis Presley versionEdit

"Always on My Mind"
 
Picture sleeve (reverse) for North American single with "Separate Ways" in smaller font, also used for some European and Australian releases
Single by Elvis Presley
A-side"Separate Ways"
ReleasedOctober 31, 1972
Format7-inch
RecordedMarch 29, 1972
StudioRCA Studios, Hollywood, California
Genre
Length3:37
LabelRCA Victor
Songwriter(s)
  • Wayne Carson
  • Mark James
  • Johnny Christopher
Producer(s)Felton Jarvis[2]
Elvis Presley singles chronology
"Burning Love"
(1972)
"Always on My Mind"
(1972)
"Fool" / "Steamroller Blues"
(1973)

Elvis Presley recorded "Always on My Mind" on March 29, 1972, a few weeks after his February separation from his wife, Priscilla.[3] The song received immense fame and critical appreciation and is considered one of Presley's standout songs of the 1970s. The song was released as the B-side of the "Separate Ways" single, which was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for sales in excess of one million units.[4] (sales of over a million copies). It was listed as a double A-side, reaching number 16 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart in November 1972.[5] In the United Kingdom, "Always on My Mind" was the hit song while "Separate Ways" was the B-side. It was voted the number-one song of Presley's recording career in a poll conducted by ITV in 2013.[6]

ChartsEdit

Chart (1972–73) Peak
position
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia)[7] 10
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[8] 4
Ireland (IRMA)[9] 9
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[10] 9
US Billboard Hot 100[11] 20
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[12] 3
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[13] 16
US Cash Box Country Singles[14] 30
Chart (1997) Peak
position
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[15] 49
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[16] 15
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[17] 17
Chart (1999) Peak
position
France (SNEP)[18] 56
Chart (2007) Peak
position
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[19] 39

CertificationsEdit

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[20] Silver 250,000 

 sales+streaming figures based on certification alone

John Wesley Ryles versionEdit

In 1979, John Wesley Ryles reached number 20 on the US Hot Country Songs chart with his rendition, retitled "You Are Always on My Mind", from the album Let the Night Begin.[21] The rendition was produced by Bob Montgomery.[22]

A review in Billboard praised the "brightly mixed vocals" and "powerful production".[22]

ChartsEdit

Chart (1979) Peak
position
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[23] 24
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[24] 20
US Cash Box Country Singles[25] 17

Willie Nelson versionEdit

"Always on My Mind"
 
Side-A label of the US 7-inch vinyl
Single by Willie Nelson
from the album Always on My Mind
B-side"The Party's Over"
ReleasedMarch 6, 1982
Format7-inch
GenreCountry
Length3:33
LabelColumbia
Songwriter(s)
  • Johnny Christopher
  • Wayne Carson Thompson
  • Mark James
Producer(s)Chips Moman
Willie Nelson singles chronology
"Heartaches of a Fool"
(1981)
"Always on My Mind"
(1982)
"Let It Be Me"
(1982)
Audio sample
"Always on My Mind"

Willie Nelson recorded and released the song in early 1982. It raced to number one on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart that May, spending two weeks on top and a total of 21 weeks on the chart. The song also fared well on Top 40 radio, reaching number five on the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks and staying on that chart for 23 weeks. It was the best-performing single on the Hot Country Singles year-end chart of 1982. This version also charted in a number of other countries. The single was certified platinum by the RIAA on October 7, 1991.[26]

Nelson's version resulted in three wins at the 25th Grammy Awards in February 1983: songwriters Christopher, James, and Carson won Song of the Year and Best Country Song; in addition, Nelson won for Best Male Country Vocal Performance. This version also won Country Music Association Awards in two consecutive years: 1982 Song of the Year and 1983 Song of the Year for songwriters Christopher, James and Carson; 1982 Single of the Year for Nelson, and; contributed to Nelson winning 1982 Album of the Year for the album Always on My Mind.

Nelson performed the song with Johnny Cash on the 1998 release of VH1 Storytellers: Johnny Cash & Willie Nelson. The song was also featured in a December 2009 ASPCA commercial. In 2008, the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

In 2013, Nelson's version was also featured in its entirety in a season two episode of the HBO series The Newsroom.

ChartsEdit

Weekly chartsEdit

Chart (1982–84) Peak
position
Australia (Kent Music Report)[27] 39
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[28] 31
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[29] 10
Canada Adult Contemporary (RPM)[30] 4
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[31] 1
Ireland (IRMA)[9] 8
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[32] 17
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[33] 19
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[34] 49
US Billboard Hot 100[35] 5
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[36] 2
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[37] 1
US Cash Box Top 100[38] 4
US Cash Box Country Singles[39] 1

Year-end chartsEdit

Chart (1982) Position
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[40] 70
US Billboard Hot 100[41] 22
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[42] 8
US Hot Country Singles (Billboard)[43] 1
US Cash Box Top 100[44] 31

CertificationsEdit

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[26] Platinum 1,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Pet Shop Boys versionEdit

"Always on My Mind"
 
Standard artwork for commercial releases in most territories
Single by Pet Shop Boys
from the album Introspective
B-side"Do I Have To?"
ReleasedNovember 30, 1987
Format
GenreSynth-pop
Length9:05 (album version)
3:56 (single mix)
LabelParlophone
Songwriter(s)
  • Wayne Carson Thompson
  • Mark James
  • Johnny Christopher
Producer(s)
Pet Shop Boys singles chronology
"Rent"
(1987)
"Always on My Mind"
(1987)
"Heart"
(1988)
Alternative cover
 
Artwork for the UK and European 12-inch vinyl remix single
Audio sample
"Always on My Mind"

In 1987, the Pet Shop Boys performed a synth-pop version of "Always on My Mind" on Love Me Tender, a television special on the ITV network in the United Kingdom. Commemorating the tenth anniversary of Presley's death, the programme featured various popular acts of the time performing cover versions of his songs. The Pet Shop Boys' performance was so well-received that the duo decided to record the song and release it as a single.

This version became the UK's Christmas number-one single that year, spending four weeks atop the chart.[45] It also reached number four on the US Billboard Hot 100.[46]

The Pet Shop Boys version introduces a harmonic variation not present in the original version. In the original, the ending phrase "always on my mind" is sung to a IV-V7-I cadence (C-D7-G). The Pet Shop Boys extend this cadence by adding two further chords: C-D7-Gm7/B-C-G (i.e. a progression of IV-V7-IIIb-IV-I).

In November 2004, The Daily Telegraph placed the version at number two in a list of the 50 best cover versions of all time.[47] In October 2014, a public poll compiled by the BBC saw the song voted the all-time best cover version.[48]

In the video for Pet Shop Boys' version of "Always on My Mind" (an excerpt from their surreal music film It Couldn't Happen Here), Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe are seated in the front of a taxi cab, when an eccentric passenger gets in, played by British actor Joss Ackland. At the end of the song, he gets out of the car, which drives away. Standing alone, he mutters: "You went away. It should make me feel better. But I don't know how I'm going to get through", which is part of the lyrics for another Pet Shop Boys song, "What Have I Done to Deserve This?", released earlier in the year.

In 1988, the duo remixed the song for their third studio album, Introspective, combining it with the track "In My House". Two further remixes by longtime Pet Shop Boys remixer, Shep Pettibone, were released on the US promotional triple vinyl version of the album—Shep's Holiday Mix and Shep's House Mix. Neither have appeared on any other format since.

In 2008, the song was used in the video game Dance Dance Revolution X, which was released for both arcades and the PlayStation 2 console. In 2010, the song was re-used for Dance Dance Revolution X2 which was released for arcades.

In 2017, Burberry released its holiday campaign, as directed by Alasdair McLellan, which features Cara Delevingne and actor Matt Smith. It opens with Delevingne singing "Always on My Mind" before segueing into the Pet Shop Boys cover of the song.[49]

ChartsEdit

Weekly chartsEdit

Chart (1987–88) Peak
position
Australia (Kent Music Report)[50] 10
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[51] 2
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[52] 2
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[53] 1
Canada (The Record)[54] 1
Denmark (Tracklisten)[55] 2
Europe (European Hot 100 Singles)[56] 1
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)[57] 1
France (SNEP)[58] 22
Iceland (Íslenski Listinn Topp 10)[59] 2
Ireland (IRMA)[9] 2
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[60] 3
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[61] 5
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[62] 8
Norway (VG-lista)[63] 3
Poland (LP3)[64] 1
South Africa (Springbok Radio)[65] 3
Spain (AFYVE)[55] 1
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[66] 1
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[67] 1
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[45] 1
US Billboard Hot 100[46] 4
US Dance Club Songs (Billboard)[68] 8
US Dance Singles Sales (Billboard)[69] 12
West Germany (Official German Charts)[70] 1

Year-end chartsEdit

Chart (1987) Position
UK Singles (Gallup)[71] 14
Chart (1988) Position
Australia (ARIA)[72] 35
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[73] 13
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[74] 29
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[75] 15
Europe (European Hot 100 Singles)[76] 12
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[77] 62
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[78] 88
South Africa (Springbok Radio)[79] 11
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[80] 15
US Billboard Hot 100[81] 80
West Germany (Official German Charts)[82] 4

CertificationsEdit

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[83] Gold 500,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Other versionsEdit

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit