You Were Always On My Mind – Presley or Nelson?

A while ago the wife and I were watching the documentary Elvis by The Presleys and came across the song ‘You Were Always On My Mind‘.  I remember first coming across the Pet Shop Boys cover of the song and when I heard it had original covers that didn’t want to be as 80’s pop-like I gave it the time of day.

It should come as quite a surprise to hear that I like this song, as apparently it was written as a country tune and I am not the biggest fan of country music.  Still it’s a love song of sorts and it’s country-feel can be suitably diluted to be more ballad-esque.

So Willie Nelson – what’s up with that?  Not being a country bloke meself, I don’t know that much about Willie and his music, but get the impression that he’s a fairly big deal in those country type of circles. There’s a debate in the Dryden household and revolves around the wife’s opinion that this version is the superior one.  Don’t get me wrong, Nelson’s vocal style lends itself fairly well to the sentiments of the song, and it’s not rushed or anything it does have some merits.

My vote, though, goes to Elvis.  That’s not because I’m an Elvis fan – I’m not. I listen to this track and can believe that Elvis genuinely regrets not doing the little things and wants his love to know that she was always on his mind.  It is an emotionally richer rendition than the laid back (almost comatose) Nelson version.  Here the music helps as well with the urging and yearning that obviously the brother would have. It is also useful knowing that this happened at a tough time in Elvis’ own relationship with Priscilla, I can hear him channel some of that anguish in this version.

For the benefit of the exercise here’s the first person who recorded the song Brenda Lee.  Lyrically it just sounds a bit odd coming from a woman.  You’d expect a bloke to be more forgetful of his missus, rather than the missus not taking the time to do those little things.  Now when I say ‘you’d expect’ I’m sure there are plenty of women who neglect their blokes, but just listen to the lyrics as rendered by the first two geezers and I’m sure you’d agree that it sounds better coming from the bloke than the lady.

In any case, there you go, a wonderful ballad of love potentially lost and mourned over – just the thing you need to remind you to ALWAYS BE GRATEFUL FOR SPECIAL RELATIONSHIPS – and let that loved one know how grateful you are!  Enjoy.




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