Elvis Presley’s ‘Always on My Mind’ Wasn’t the Version of the Song That Hit No. 1

“Always on My Mind” remains one of Elvis Presley’s most famous late-period songs. Despite this, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s version was not the highest-charting version of the track. One of the co-writers of “Always on My Mind” reacted to the cover that reached No. 1. He also discussed why he thinks the song resonated with so many people.

Elvis Presley with a microphone
Elvis Presley | Frank Carroll/Gary Null/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

How the public reacted to Elvis Presley’s ‘Always on My Mind’

Many of Elvis’ most famous songs were covers. For example, “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Hound Dog,” and “Blue Hawaii” were all originally by other artists. “Always on My Mind” was no different. The original version of the song was performed by Gwen McCrae. McCrae’s version of the song remains obscure.

It’s undoubtedly true that a lot of people would never have heard “Always on My Mind” if not for the King of Rock’ n’ Roll’s cover. The Official Charts Company reports his rendition of the song reached No. 9 in the United Kingdom. It stayed on the chart for 22 weeks.

This version of ‘Always on My Mind’ hit No. 1

Willie Nelson also released a country cover of the song. The Official Charts Company says it peaked at No. 49 in the U.K., staying on the chart for three weeks. However, the most popular version of the song was by the Pet Shop Boys. According to The Official Charts Company, their cover of “Always on My Mind” reached No. 1 in the U.K., remaining on the chart for 14 weeks. Their version of the song was a synth-pop song with s substantially different melody from the original.

“Always on my Mind” was co-written by Wayne Carson, Mark James, and Johnny Christopher. During an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Carson revealed what he thought of the Pet Shop Boys changing “Always on My Mind.” “Everybody had told me, ‘You’re not going to like it. They changed some of the melody, they changed a couple of words and they added all these synthesizers and things,'” he said.

Carson proved them wrong. “But I just kept an open mind and when I finally heard it, I thought, ‘Hell, that’s a great record,'” he said. “I don’t think you can hurt a good song, and this is living proof.”


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1 of the writers of the song explains why it resonated whether it’s performed by Elvis Presley or the Pet Shop Boys

Carson revealed why he thinks “Always on My Mind” resonated with so many people. “To me, a good song tells a story that everyone would like to say … a song that leads people to say, ‘God, that song’s me,'” he said. Carson thinks lots of people wanted to hear a song that expressed the emotion of “Always on My Mind.”

Carson explained the essence of the song. “All that ‘Always’ was about was one long apology,” he said. “It’s sort of like all guys who screw up and would love nothing better than to pick up the phone and call their wives and say, ‘Listen, honey, I could have done better, but I want you to know that you were always on my mind.'”