Always on My Mind

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"Always on My Mind"
Song by B.J. Thomas
StudioAmerican Sound Studio, Memphis
Songwriter(s)Wayne Carson, Johnny Christopher, Mark James
"Always on My Mind"
Single by Brenda Lee
from the album Brenda
StudioAmerican Sound Studio, Memphis
Songwriter(s)Wayne Carson, Johnny Christopher, Mark James
Brenda Lee singles chronology
"Misty Memories"
"Always on My Mind"
"Nobody Wins"

"Always on My Mind" is a song by Johnny Christopher, Mark James, and Wayne Carson, recorded first by B.J. Thomas in 1969[1], then Gwen McCrae (as "You Were Always on My Mind") and Brenda Lee in 1972. The song has been a crossover hit, charting in both the country and western and pop categories.

AllMusic lists over 300 recorded releases of the song in versions by dozens of performers.[2] While Brenda Lee's version had stalled at number 45 on the country charts in 1972, other performers reached the top 20 in the United States and elsewhere with their own versions: Elvis Presley in 1972; John Wesley Ryles in 1979; Willie Nelson's Grammy Award-winning version in 1982; Pet Shop Boys in 1987.

Elvis Presley version[edit]

"Always on My Mind"
Always on My Mind Separate Ways by Elvis Presley picture sleeve.jpg
Picture sleeve for North American, some European, and Australian releases with "Separate Ways" in smaller font
Single by Elvis Presley
A-side"Separate Ways"
ReleasedNovember 1972
Format7", 45rpm
RecordedMarch 29, 1972, RCA Studios, Hollywood, California
LabelRCA Records
Songwriter(s)Wayne Carson, Johnny Christopher, Mark James
Producer(s)Felton Jarvis[3]
Elvis Presley singles chronology
"Burning Love"
"Always on My Mind"
"Fool" / "Steamroller Blues"

Elvis Presley recorded his version of "Always on My Mind" on March 29, 1972, a few weeks after his February separation from wife Priscilla.[4] The song received immense fame and critical appreciation and is considered one of the standout songs of the '70s for Elvis. The song was released as the B-side of the "Separate Ways" single, which reached Gold status in the U.S for sales of over a million copies. It was listed as a double sided hit reaching number 16 on Billboard magazine's Hot Country Singles chart in November 1972.[5] In the UK "Always on My Mind" was the hit song and "Separate Ways" was the B-side. It was voted the number 1 song of Presley's recording career in a poll conducted by ITV in 2013.[6]


1972 Weekly Chart Peak
US Billboard Hot 100[7] 20
US Hot Country Singles (Billboard)[7] 16
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[7] 3
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 4
Dutch Top 40 17
French Singles Chart 56
Ireland (IRMA)[8] 9
Swiss Singles Chart 39
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[9] 9


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[10] Silver 250,000double-dagger

double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone

John Wesley Ryles' version[edit]

In 1979, John Wesley Ryles reached number 20 on the US country charts with his rendition, entitled "You Are Always on My Mind", from the album Let the Night Begin.[11] The rendition was produced by Bob Montgomery.[12]

A review in Billboard praised the "brightly mixed vocals" and "powerful production".[12]


1979 Weekly Chart Peak
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[13] 20
Canadian RPM Country Tracks[14] 24

Willie Nelson version[edit]

"Always on My Mind"
Always on My Mind by Willie Nelson US vinyl.jpg
A-side label of the U.S. vinyl release
Single by Willie Nelson
from the album Always on My Mind
B-side"The Party's Over"
ReleasedMarch 6, 1982
Songwriter(s)Wayne Carson, Johnny Christopher, Mark James
Producer(s)Chips Moman
Willie Nelson singles chronology
"Heartaches of a Fool"
"Always on My Mind"
"Let It Be Me"
Audio sample

Willie Nelson recorded and released the song in early 1982. It raced to number one on Billboard magazine's Hot Country Singles chart that May, spending two weeks on top and total of 21 weeks on the chart. The song also did very well on Top 40 radio, reaching number five on the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks and staying on this chart for 23 weeks. In the year end charts, it was Billboard's biggest Country hit for 1982. This version also charted in a number of other countries.

Nelson's version would result in three wins at the 25th Grammy Awards in February 1983: songwriters Christopher, James and Carson won Song of the Year and Best Country Song; in addition, Nelson won for Best Male Country Vocal Performance.

This version also won Country Music Association awards in two consecutive years: 1982 Song of the Year and 1983 Song of the Year for songwriters Christopher, James and Carson; 1982 Single of the Year for Nelson, and; contributed to Nelson winning 1982 Album of the Year for the album "Always on My Mind".

Willie Nelson performed the number with Johnny Cash on the 1998 release of VH1 Storytellers: Johnny Cash & Willie Nelson. The song was also featured on a December 2009 ASPCA commercial.

The single was certified Platinum by the RIAA signifying U. S. sales in excess of two million. In 2008, the single was inducted to the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Nelson's version was also featured, in its entirety, in a season two (2013) episode of the HBO television series The Newsroom.

Chart history[edit]

1982 Weekly Chart Peak
Australian Kent Music Report[15] 39
Belgian Top 40 (Flanders)[16] 31
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 1
Canadian RPM Adult Contemporary Tracks 4
Canadian RPM Top Singles 10
Dutch Singles Chart 17
Irish Singles Chart 8
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[17] 1
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[18] 2
US Billboard Hot 100[19] 5
UK Singles Chart 49
1982 Year-End Chart Position
Canadian RPM Top Singles[20] 70
US Billboard Hot 100[21] 22
US Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks[21] 8
US Billboard Hot Country Singles[21] 1
US Cashbox Top 100[22] 31

Pet Shop Boys version[edit]

"Always on My Mind"
Standard artwork for commercial releases in most territories
Single by Pet Shop Boys
B-side"Do I Have To?"
ReleasedNovember 30, 1987
Format7", 12", cassette, CD
Length3:56 (single mix)
5:55 (remix)
8:10 (extended mix)
9:04 (album version)
LabelParlophoneR 6171
Songwriter(s)Mark James, Johnny Christopher, Wayne Carson Thompson
Producer(s)Julian Mendelsohn, Pet Shop Boys
Pet Shop Boys singles chronology
"Always on My Mind"
Alternative cover
Artwork for the UK and European 12-inch vinyl remix single
Artwork for the UK and European 12-inch vinyl remix single
Audio sample

In 1987, the Pet Shop Boys performed a synthpop version of "Always on My Mind" on Love Me Tender, a television special on the ITV network in the UK. Commemorating the tenth anniversary of Presley's death, the programme featured various popular acts of the time performing cover versions of his hits. The Pet Shop Boys' performance was so well-received that the duo decided to record the song and release it as a single.

This version became the UK's Christmas number one single that year. It went on to top the charts for four weeks in total, and reached number four on the US Billboard Hot 100.[23][24]

The Pet Shop Boys version introduces a harmonic variation not present in the original version. In the original the ending phrase "always on my mind" is sung to a IV-V7-I cadence (C-D7-G). The Pet Shop Boys extend this cadence by adding two further chords: C-D7-Gm7/B-C-G (i.e. a progression of IV-V7-IIIb-IV-I).

In November 2004, The Daily Telegraph newspaper placed the version at number two in a list of the fifty greatest cover versions of all time.[25] In October 2014, a public poll compiled by the BBC saw the song voted the all-time best cover version.[26]

In the video for Pet Shop Boys' version of "Always on My Mind" (an excerpt from their surreal music film It Couldn't Happen Here), Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe are seated in the front of a taxi cab, when an eccentric passenger gets in, played by notable British actor Joss Ackland. At the end of the song, he gets out of the car, which drives away. Standing alone, he mutters: "You went away. It should make me feel better. But I don't know how I'm going to get through", which is part of the lyrics for another Pet Shop Boys track, "What Have I Done to Deserve This?", which was released earlier in the year.

In 1988, the duo remixed the song for their third studio LP, Introspective, combining it with an acid-house track called "In My House".

In 2008, Konami used the song for Dance Dance Revolution X which was released for both arcades and the Sony PlayStation 2 console. In 2010, the song was re-used for Dance Dance Revolution X2 which was released for arcades.

In 2017, Burberry released its Holiday campaign, as directed by Alasdair McLellan, which features Cara Delevingne and actor Matt Smith. It opens with Delevingne singing "Always on My Mind" before segueing into the Pet Shop Boys cover of the song.[27]


Chart (1987/1988) Peak
Australian Singles Chart[28] 10
Austrian Singles Chart[29] 2
Belgian Singles Chart (Vl)[30] 2
Canadian Singles Chart[31] 1
Dutch Singles Chart[32] 5
European Singles Chart[citation needed] 1
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)[33] 1
French Singles Chart[34] 22
German Singles Chart[35] 1
Icelandic Singles Chart[36] 2
Irish Singles Chart[37] 2
Italian Singles Chart[38] 9
New Zealand Singles Chart[39] 8
Norwegian Singles Chart[40] 3
Polish Singles Chart[41] 1
South African Singles Chart[42] 3
Spain (AFYVE)[43] 1
Swedish Singles Chart[44] 1
Swiss Singles Chart[45] 1
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[23] 1
US Billboard Hot 100[24] 4
US Dance Club Songs (Billboard)[46] 8
US Billboard Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales Chart[24] 12

Other cover versions[edit]


  1. ^ "Cover versions of Always on My Mind by B.J. Thomas | SecondHandSongs". Retrieved 2018-09-23.
  2. ^ ""Always on My Mind" – search results". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-03-30.
  3. ^ George Klein; Chuck Crisafulli. Elvis: My Best Man: Radio Days, Rock 'n' Roll Nights, and My Lifelong ... p. 233. Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  4. ^ Guralnick, Peter / Jorgensen, Ernst (1999) p. 310. Elvis: Day by Day. ISBN 0-345-42089-6
  5. ^ "Top 20 Country Billboard Singles". The Official Elvis Presley Website. Archived from the original on 19 December 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-02.
  6. ^ "The Nation's Favourite Elvis Song: Top 20 Results and Winner". Telly Chat. Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  7. ^ a b c Elvis Presley Billboard Chart Positions at AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-07-14.
  8. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Always on My Mind". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved July 11, 2017.
  9. ^ "Elvis Presley: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company.
  10. ^ "British single certifications – Elvis Presley – Always on My Mind". British Phonographic Industry. Select singles in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type Always on My Mind in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  11. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. p. 367. ISBN 0-89820-177-2.
  12. ^ a b Billboard. 1979-10-06. p. 85. Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  13. ^ "John Wesley Ryles Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard.
  14. ^ "RPM Country Tracks for December 29, 1979". RPM. Retrieved 2012-02-04.
  15. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  16. ^ "Ultratop Belgian Charts". 1984-07-21. Retrieved 2014-03-30.
  17. ^ "Willie Nelson Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard.
  18. ^ "Willie Nelson Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard.
  19. ^ "Willie Nelson – Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved 2014-03-30.
  20. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-08-11. Retrieved 2017-07-12.
  21. ^ a b c "Willie Nelson – Always on My Mind". Retrieved 2012-04-10.
  22. ^ "Cash Box YE Pop Singles – 1982". 1982-12-25. Archived from the original on 2016-04-07. Retrieved 2012-06-23.
  23. ^ a b "Pet Shop Boys: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved May 13, 2018.
  24. ^ a b c "Pet Shop Boys Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved May 13, 2018.
  25. ^ "They did it their way". The Daily Telegraph. London. November 20, 2004. Retrieved 2012-06-02.
  26. ^ "Pet Shop Boys' Always On My Mind tops cover version vote". BBC News. 27 October 2014. Retrieved 2014-10-27.
  27. ^ "Cara Delevingne and Matt Smith Star in Burberry's Very '80s Holiday Campaign". Fashionista. Retrieved 2017-11-09.
  28. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW, Australia: Australian Chart Book. p. 232. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  29. ^ Steffen Hung. "Pet Shop Boys – Always on My Mind". Retrieved 2012-06-23.
  30. ^ "PET SHOP BOYS - ALWAYS ON MY MIND (SONG)". Archived from the original on 2015-01-15. Retrieved 2016-06-29.
  31. ^ "Results – RPM – Library and Archives Canada". Archived from the original on 2016-12-20. Retrieved 2012-06-23.
  32. ^ Steffen Hung. "Pet Shop Boys – Always on My Mind". Retrieved 2012-06-23.
  33. ^ Pennanen, Timo (2006). Sisältää hitin – levyt ja esittäjät Suomen musiikkilistoilla vuodesta 1972 (in Finnish) (1st ed.). Helsinki: Tammi. ISBN 978-951-1-21053-5.
  34. ^ Steffen Hung. "Pet Shop Boys – Always on My Mind". Retrieved 2012-06-23.
  35. ^ "". 2006-11-14. Retrieved 2012-06-23.
  36. ^ "Íslenski Listinn Topp 10 (5. febrúar 1988)" (PDF) (in Icelandic). Dagblaðið Vísir. Retrieved 2018-07-26.
  37. ^ Jaclyn Ward – Fireball Media Group. "The Irish Charts – All there is to know". Archived from the original on 2009-06-03. Retrieved 2012-06-23.
  38. ^ "Hit Parade Italia – Indice per Interprete: P". Retrieved 2012-06-23.
  39. ^ Steffen Hung. "Pet Shop Boys – Always on My Mind". Retrieved 2012-06-23.
  40. ^ Steffen Hung. "Pet Shop Boys – Always on My Mind". Retrieved 2012-06-23.
  41. ^ "Archiwum Listy Przebojów Programu Trzeciego". Retrieved 2016-11-09.
  42. ^ Brian Currin (2003-05-25). "South African Rock Lists Website – SA Charts 1969 – 1989 Acts (P)". Retrieved 2012-06-23.
  43. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  44. ^ Steffen Hung. "Pet Shop Boys – Always on My Mind". Retrieved 2012-06-23.
  45. ^ Steffen Hung. "Pet Shop Boys – Always on My Mind". Retrieved 2012-06-23.
  46. ^ "Pet Shop Boys Chart History (Dance Club Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved May 13, 2018.
  47. ^
  48. ^ "Archived copy" 1983年度十大勁歌金曲頒獎典禮 (十大勁歌金曲獎). TVB (in Chinese). Archived from the original on 2017-12-08. Retrieved December 17, 2017.
  49. ^ "YouTube". YouTube. Retrieved 2014-03-30.

External links[edit]