On This Day: Willie Nelson’s ‘Always on My Mind’ Goes No. 1 in 1982

by Keeli Parkey

On this day (May 8, 2021) 39 years ago, one of Willie Nelson’s most heartbreaking songs rose to the top spot in the charts.

That song was “Always on My Mind,” and while the iconic country music star didn’t write the song himself, he still gave one of his most memorable performances on the track. According to The Boot, the song was the eighth of Nelson’s to make it all the way to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart. It was also the first single released from and title track of his “Always on My Mind” album.

Willie Nelson’s version of “Always on My Mind” was No. 1 on the charts for two weeks. Interestingly, it was replaced by another one of Nelson’s songs. This was a duet with Waylon Jennings titled “Just to Satisfy You.”

The year 1982 proved to be a good one for Willie Nelson thanks to his “Always on My Mind” album. He won a Grammy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance. He also won Album of the Year at the CMA Awards and the ACM Awards. And, “Always on My Mind” also won Single of the Year.

You can watch Willie Nelson perform “Always On My Mind” below. His performance captures the pain and regret of someone who has lost the person he loved.

Behind ‘Always on My Mind’

Willie Nelson was not the first artist to record a version of “Always on My Mind.” And, he wouldn’t be the last. In fact, many, many artists have recorded the song and it has been released more than 300 times. Among these artists are Elvis Presley and Brenda Lee, who both recorded it in 1972. John Wesley Ryles did his version in 1979. The Pet Shop Boys released theirs in 1987.

That really shouldn’t be a surprise. It’s a heartfelt song full of regret and pain and loss. It’s a song that so many people can identify with. The lyrics are simple, yet moving. And, when you have a great artist like Willie Nelson performing them, you obviously have a hit on your hands.

Here are a few of the lyrics: “If I made you feel second best / Girl I’m sorry I was blind / You were always on my mind.

“Always on My Mind” was written by Johnny Christopher, Mark James and Wayne Carson.

Here’s a video of Elvis Presley singing “Always on My Mind.” Interestingly, he recorded his version only weeks after he and his wife, Priscilla Presley, had separated.