A Song and a Story: “Always on My Mind” #AtoZChallenge

Let’s kick off the 2019 Blogging A to Z Challenge with a song by the legendary Willie Nelson:

Always on My Mind

This song always reminds me of my father.  In his final years, when his health deteriorated due to Multiple Sclerosis, my father took a liking to listening to country music.  Now, back in the early 1980s, a man who grew up in Brooklyn and then settled in the Connecticut suburbs typically didn’t listen to country music, and my dad had been a rock and roll kind of guy up to that point.  But perhaps he was just ahead of the trend of the late 80s and 90s when country boomed well outside of its core constituencies in the South and the West, and even Manhattan had country line dancing bars.

Now, as a kid, I wasn’t too interested in country, but even I loved hearing the warm voice of Willie Nelson as he sang the melancholy title track of his 1982 album Always on My Mind.  Years later, I heard some of the cool kids in high school talking about a new song by the Pet Shop Boys called “Always on My Mind.”  I snootily informed them that the Pet Shop Boys did NOT write that song, it was Willie Nelson.  The joke was on me, because even more years later I learned that “Always on My Mind” was a hit song for Elvis Presley a decade before Willie Nelson recorded his version. And the song didn’t even start with the King! It was written by Johnny Christopher, Mark James, and Wayne Carson and first recorded by B.J. Thomas in 1969.  Brend Lee got the song to chart before Elvis did, and there are probably dozens of versions out there.

Compare and contrast:

Elvis Presley, or…

The Pet Shop Boys?

Nevertheless, it’s the Willie Nelson version I always come back to.  His voice and instrumentation always make the song sound so sweet, albeit sad.  Pull back the layers though, and it this song of apology may be a bit deceptive. Is the narrator of this song really trustworthy or is he just a jerk who’s going to disapoint us again?  Could be both.  And suitably, it’s appropriate that I associate this song with my father who often disappointed his family, and I’m sure he felt bad about it, but we never quite came to reconciliation.  He died in 1991, but all these years later when I hear Willie’s plaintive voice, it’s my father I think of.

If you want to read more, check out my previous Blogging A to Z Challenges:

And dig deep into Panorama of the Mountains, by checking out my:

And, if you like Doctor Who, I have a whole ‘nother blog where I review Doctor Who stories across media: Epic Mandates.

5 thoughts on “A Song and a Story: “Always on My Mind” #AtoZChallenge

  1. I always come back to the Willie Nelson version also, and while I hear the earnestness of his apology in his voice, I also get the feeling that he will make the same mistakes again. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love both WN and Elvis singing this song. I’d never heard the Pet Shop Boys’ version and in their own way it was sad, too. It’s so hard listening to this song, and Baby Come Back right now, because my daughter is leaving her husband, who “You Were Always On My Mind” could have been written for, and I really feel for him. He just couldn’t get it, and now she’s gone. He’s a good man, just couldn’t see her, only himself. I guess songs like this, even though they make me sad for the singer, they also make me see how selfish it can seem to be singing only about how the break up affected the singer, with no apparent thought for the person who left… Too philosophical! Arg! On with the music, and A to Z blogging!

    Liked by 1 person

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