Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Always on My Mind

First recorded by Brenda Lee (C&W #45/CAN #40 1972).
Hit versions by Elvis Presley (C&W #16/UK #9 1972), John Wesley Ryles (C&W #20 1979), Willie Nelson (US #5/C&W #1 1982), Pet Shop Boys (US #4/UK #1/CAN #1 1988).

From the wiki: “‘Always on My Mind’ is an American country music song by Johnny Christopher, Mark James (‘Suspicious Minds‘, ‘Hooked On a Feeling‘) and Wayne Carson, recorded first by Brenda Lee in 1972.

“Wayne Carson says that he wrote the song in 10 minutes at his home in Springfield at his kitchen table and completed the song in studio with the assistance of Johnny Christopher and Mark James. Brenda Lee would be the first singer to record and release a version of ‘Always On My Mind’. Her single, however, would stall at #45 on the US Country Singles chart.

“Elvis Presley recorded his version of “Always on My Mind” on March 29, 1972, a few weeks after his February separation from wife Priscilla. The song was originally released as the B-side to ‘Separate Ways’ single; by November, ‘Separate/Always’ was listed as a double-sided hit peaking at #16 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart.

“Five years later, in 1979, John Wesley Ryles reached #20 on the U.S. country charts with his rendition, entitled ‘You Are Always on My Mind’.

“‘Always on My Mind’ was recorded by Willie Nelson and released in the spring of 1982. The song raced to #1 on Billboard magazine’s Hot Country Singles chart, spending two weeks atop. ‘Always’ also did very well on Top 40 radio, peaking at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks.

“Nelson’s version would result in three wins at the 1983 Grammy Awards: songwriters Christopher, James and Carson won double Grammys for Song of the Year and Best Country Song; in addition, Nelson won a Grammy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance. His arrangement also won Country Music Association awards in two consecutive years: as the 1982 Song of the Year and, for Nelson, Single of the Year; and again in 1983 as Song of the Year for the songwriters Christopher, James and Carson.

“In 1987, Pet Shop Boys performed a synth-pop version of ‘Always on My Mind’ on Love Me Tender, an ITV network television special commemorating the 10th anniversary of Presley’s death. Their 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 #1 single that year, topping the charts for four weeks in total. It is the group’s best-selling single in the UK Singles Chart. The Pet Shop Boys’ recording also topped the charts in another half-dozen countries, including Poland, and was Top 5 in six more.

“AllMusic lists more than 300 different recordings of ‘Always On My Mind’ in versions by dozens of performers. It was Willie Nelson’s recording, though, that was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2008.”

Elvis Presley, “Always On My Mind” (1972):

John Wesley Ryles, “Always On My Mind” (1979):

Willie Nelson, “Always On My Mind” (1982):

Pet Shop Boys, “Always On My Mind” (1988):

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