The song “Always On My Mind” is not only considered a classic in country music but as well as in the entire music industry. Over time, countless artists have already released their own recordings of the iconic song, but none is probably more admired than Willie Nelson’s version from his 1982 album of the same title.
Nelson’s mournful rendition of the song raced to No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles chart that year, spending two weeks on top and a total of twenty-one weeks on the chart. The song also fared well on Top 40 radio, reaching No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks and stayed on that chart for twenty-three weeks. Nelson even charted in several other countries too.
But not only that, the hit ultimately landed the original country outlaw an admirable three Grammy Awards in 1983, winning Best Male Country Vocal Performance, Song of the Year, and Best Country Song. Country Music Association Awards also named Nelson’s “Always On My Mind” as Song of the Year for two consecutive years. Nearly a decade after its release, the single was certified platinum by the RIAA.
And in 2008, the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
When Willie Nelson’s Version Stood Out Among The Rest
Written by songwriters Wayne Carson, Johnny Christopher, and Mark James, “Always On My Mind” tells the story of a remorseful man. He realized that he should have treated the love of his life better and confessed that she will forever be on his mind now that they are no longer together.
“I wrote those two verses living in Springfield, Missouri,” Carson recalled. “I’ll think of the melody or the chord structure or something I’ll come up with, and I’ll make — I’ll see if that doesn’t fit the words or anything like that. If the melody is singable, the words are not far away. It’s only a story, you know.”
He added, “In this case, “Always on My Mind” happens to be one of those things that, universally, everybody on the planet has been there, you know. And it struck all at one time. Everybody touched base with that one. It was just magic that it was so simple and so right on the button.”
While the song has become one of Nelson’s signature tunes, he is actually one of several artists who found success with “Always on My Mind,” others include Elvis Presley, The Pet Shop Boys Brenda Lee, and John Wesley Ryles. Elvis Presley’s recording in 1972 may have popularized the song, but it was Nelson’s version that pierced through the hearts of most music fans.
Nelson Revisited His Version of “Always in My Mind” Years Later
In 2013, Nelson visited his version of the song once again. This time it’s for his duet album To All the Girls. Nelson chose the incredibly talented Carrie Underwood as his duet partner, and Underwood can’t help but feel honored to sing the song with the country legend.
“It’s just one of those beautiful, classic songs that everybody knows, and everybody’s sung…” Underwood said in an interview for Willie Nelson’s YouTube channel. “For me to be able to say I sang it with Willie Nelson is pretty awesome.” Underwood’s angelic, sweet voice is nothing but perfect for the track. The contrast between her voice and Nelson’s raspy vocals create a breathtaking combination.
However, Nelson and Underwood’s duet was never released as a single, yet it stood out from the other songs on his album. The moment you hear the way Nelson and Underwood’s voices sound together, you’ll know why.
Enjoy one of Willie Nelson’s performances of “Always On My Mind” in the video below.