“Always on My Mind” has remained a timeless love song. Several artists have covered it through the years, but Elvis Presley’s version truly stands out.
The King recorded the song in 1972, just a few weeks after his separation from his wife, Priscilla Presley. It was then released as the B-side of the “Separate Ways” single, and it quickly received immense fame and critical appreciation. It reached No. 16 on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles and No. 9 in the United Kingdom. Today, it remains one of Presley’s most loved songs.
The Story Behind The Classic Song
Written by the songwriting trio, Wayne Carson, Johnny Christopher, and Mark James, “Always on My Mind” tells the tale of a man who finally admitted that despite not always doing the things he should have to show how much he appreciates the woman he loves, he wants her to know he never stops thinking about her.
“Maybe I didn’t love you quite as often as I could have. And maybe I didn’t treat you quite as good as I should have. If I made you feel second best, girl, I’m sorry I was blind. You were always on my mind,” the song goes.
But did you know this classic song came from one telephone conversation the late Wayne Carson had with his wife? Carson’s wife was no longer happy with him being always away to pursue his music career. Carson then found himself saying, “But honey, you were always on my mind.”
Carson started writing the first two verses, “Always on My Mind,” while sitting at his kitchen table. Remarkably, it only took him about ten minutes to finish everything except for the bridge. Carson purposely did not write a bridge because he didn’t think it needed one until the day he was about to record the song.
“Chips Moman, my producer and dear friend, lifelong friend, said, ‘Wayne, I think this thing needs a bridge.’ And so I said, ‘Well, how do you want me to do it?’ He said, ‘Why don’t you take it upstairs to my office; I’ve got a little piano up there, or a guitar — whatever you want to use.’ I said, ‘Well, actually, I used a piano, so I’ll go up there and see what I come up with.'”
There he found fellow songwriters Johnny Christopher and Mark James, who helped him work on the song’s bridge. When they were finished, they took the song back downstairs, “and we cut it, and all the guys in the band seemed to like it — that was kind of my gauge.”
And “Always on My Mind” found its way to The King of Rock and Roll, who perhaps could relate to the song more than anyone in the world.
Elvis Presley’s romantic relationship with Priscilla is a tale as old as time – from their unconventional meeting when she was just fourteen years old, to her moving to Graceland during her senior year of high school, to their once happy marriage. Unfortunately, they separated and filed for a legal separation in 1972. Elvis filed for divorce on January 8, 1973 – it was his 38th birthday.
There’s no doubt why “Always on My Mind” caught Presley’s attention. Tune in and watch in the video below Presley’s rare footage performing this classic song.