The song has been covered by several notable artists, including Joan Baez, Glen Campbell, David Allan Coe, Willie Nelson, Lee Ann Womack, among others. But Wagoner’s version, recorded in 1954, hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in 1955; it held that position for four weeks.
The Song That Established Wagoner As A Major Player In Nashville
Written by Red Hayes and Jack Rhodes, “A Satisfied Mind” teaches us the real meaning of satisfaction. Sure, money can relieve some financial stress off your shoulders, but that won’t “buy back your youth when you’re old or a friend when you’re lonely or a love that’s grown cold.”
The last verse of the song shows how satisfied the narrator is. He said, “When life has ended, my time has run out. My friends and my loved ones, I’ll leave, there’s no doubt. But there’s one thing for certain when it comes my time, I’ll leave this old world with a satisfied mind.”
In the early 1950s, Red Hayes was hoping to carve out a name for himself in the field of music. Hayes played in a number of bands and managed to write several songs; however, none of the playing and writing had done anything to help him launch his career.
Until one day, when Hayes and his father-in-law spent some time for a casual talk, the older man asked Hayes who he thought was the richest man in the world. The songwriter thought about the question for a little while and then started enumerating all the wealthy people he knew of that era. However, the older man laughed at each answer and told Hayes that he was going in the wrong direction. He said, “You’re wrong. The richest man in the world is the man with a satisfied mind.”
Hayes considered his father-in-law’s observation and started thinking back on the countless things his Bible-reading mother had taught him. “The song came from my mother. Everything in the song are things I heard her say over the years,” Hayes said.
Over the years, several renditions of “A Satisfied Mind” were released, not only by country stars but also by pop acts. But it was actually Porter Wagoner who first realized the potential in Hayes’ song. Growing up in poverty himself, the singer had a deep appreciation of the song’s full scope.
Wagoner’s recording of “A Satisfied Mind” then established him as a major player in Nashville and proved to be the “signature song” of his career. It surpassed all others when it came to sales and radio airplay. Today, it remained the definitive version of this all-time classic.
You can listen to the song in the video below.