Of course, the title track to that record became a mega hit for the Texas native, and one of his signature songs that is still beloved by generations of country music fans.
Written by Wayne Carson, Johnny Christopher and Mark James, it was first recorded by Brenda Lee, Gwen McCrae, and Elvis Presley, and first releasedm by Gwen McCrae as “You Were Always on My Mind” in 1972. Elvis Presley’s famous version was recorded two weeks after his separation from his wife, Priscilla, also in 1972.
This version also won CMA awards in two consecutive years, including Song of the Year in 1982 and 1983 for the writers. In 1982, Willie won the CMA for Single of the Year for the track, as well as Album of the Year for Always on My Mind.
We all know and love it as one of Willie’s signature songs and biggest hits, and I always think about what it is specifically that allows this song to resonate with so many people across generations. But Johnny summed it up perfectly:
“It’s a humbling moment when someone says, I’m sorry, and I love you and I wish I could take this back and do this better.”
I stand by the fact that this just might be the greatest heartbreak country song ever made, and his live performance of hit with his family band is pretty dang sweet.
Of course, he can’t quite belt out every line like he used to (he was 83 in the video below), but there’s somethin’ about hearing him sing it at a more mature age that gives the song a whole new perspective. Plus, it’s always adorable to see him up on stage with the family band, and here, we have his late sister, Bobbie, on the keys, and son Lukas on the guitar.
This was filmed for a Farm Aid event back in 2016 at Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow, Virginia: