Why Country Star Dwight Yoakam Worried His Cover of Elvis Presley’s ‘Suspicious Minds’ Might Flop on Rock Radio


  • Country singer Dwight Yoakam covered Elvis Presley’s “Suspicious Minds.”
  • Yoakam is a fan of many different artists and genres from the 1960s.
  • He said American radio has issues with him and similar artists.
"Suspicious Minds" singer Elvis Presley holding a guitar
“Suspicious Minds” singer Elvis Presley | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Elvis Presley‘s “Suspicious Minds” is the most famous version of the song. However, country music star Dwight Yoakam covered “Suspicious Minds” in 1992. Yoakam once revealed why he was unsure his cover would cross over to rock radio.

Elvis Presley’s ‘Suspicious Minds’ was far from the only 1960s song Dwight Yoakam knew

Yoakam is a country singer, but he was exposed to several genres growing up. During a 1992 interview with the Orlando Sentinel, he discussed his early exposure to the radio.

“I grew up during the ’60s, listening to radio when Top 40 literally exploded with a multiplicity of sounds and styles, everything from Motown to The Beatles to the remnants of rockabilly, in the guise of Roy Orbison and Del Shannon and people like that, alongside of the hard-core R&B; of Wilson Pickett, the Memphis sound, the Stax sound,” he said. “It was a great time to be exposed to American pop culture.”

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Dwight Yoakam worried stations wouldn’t play his Elvis Presley cover because he was a country singer

In 1992, Yoakam covered “Suspicious Minds.” He was worried the cover would fail commercially. “There’s an air of ostracization — I don’t know if that’s grammatically correct, but it’s a word now,” Yoakam said. 

“[On American radio], you’re discriminated against because you had hits on country radio,” he added. “Ironically, there’s not a stigma attached to being a country artist in Europe.

“If a thing is pop, and it walks pop and talks pop, they play it pop,” Yoakam continued. “There’s not the segregation of music … in Europe. It’s unfortunate — we could have an enormously provocative pop-radio format (here) if they’d allow it.”

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How ‘Suspicious Minds’ and Dwight Yoakam’s cover of it performed on the charts in the United States

Elvis’ “Suspicious Minds” was a massive hit. For one week, it topped the Billboard Hot 100, staying on the chart for 15 weeks in total. The song appeared on the compilation album Elvis: 30 #1 Hits. The compilation was No. 1 for three of its 129 weeks on the Billboard 200.

Meanwhile, Yoakam’s “Suspicious Minds” was a more modest hit. It reached No. 35 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, staying on the chart for 20 weeks. Yoakam released the song on the album The Very Best of Dwight Yoakam. The album reached No. 87 on the Billboard 200 and remained on the chart for 22 weeks.

Yoakam’s “Suspicious Minds” found an audience — even though it wasn’t on the pop charts.

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