The song, “Always On My Mind”, was originally recorded by Brenda Lee in 1972
“Always On My Mind” was written by Wayne Carson (1943-2015), Mark James (b.1940) and Johnny Christopher (b.1943) and first recorded by Brenda Lee (b.1944) in 1972. It was released as a single from her second, self-titled album and reached No.40 on the Canadian Country chart and No.45 on the US Country chart.
The song was heard by Elvis Presley, who insisted on recording his own version, just weeks after his separation from his wife, Priscilla. With such star quality, it was hardly surprising that this became the most notable version at the time, eclipsing Lee’s original recording only months after its release. His version made No.20 on the singles chart and No.16 on the Country songs chart as well as being a top ten hit internationally.
Country singer Willie Nelson (b.1933) recorded his version of the song in 1982, taking “Always On My Mind” even further, this time to the top of the Country chart and No.5 on the singles chart, selling over a million copies, double the amount that Elvis’ version had sold a decade earlier. His version earned him three Grammy Awards the following year as well as a Grammy for the songwriters for Song Of The Year.
Ten years after Presley’s death, Britain’s Pet Shop Boys recorded a version for a television special celebrating the King’s life. Their version became the most successful of all, topping the UK chart and becoming the Christmas number one of 1987 there. The song went top ten in twenty five countries worldwide, including America, where it peaked at No.4 in 1988. It was later included on their 1988 album, “Introspective”.
But which version is the best? BRENDA LEE’s original, ELVIS’ cover, WILLIE NELSON’s surprise hit or the PET SHOP BOYS tribute?