If you step back and look at Willie Nelson’s career, it’s almost unbelievable to see how many albums he has put out from the 1960s to the 2020s. And he has another, a bluegrass record, on the way tomorrow.
Counting solo studio albums, collaborative projects, and compilations, Nelson easily surpasses 150 total albums. That amount of work, and the incredible amount of hits that came from it, is outstanding. So shoutout to Willie for absolutely bringing it for over 60 years.
And a part of that 60-year run is his 27th studio album titled Always on My Mind, which was number one on the country charts on this date in 1982. If the title sounds familiar, it is in fact the famous song that the likes of Brenda Lee and Elvis Presley recorded and turned into massive hits.
Nelson not only wanted to cover the song, he also wanted to name his entire album Always on My Mind, and he did just that. The project, which featured original songs and covers, was released in February of 1982 and immediately made an impact on the country charts.
Nelson’s 27th studio album was named Billboard’s Country Album of the Year, and had incredible staying power. Always on My Mind remained on the Top Country Albums chart for 253 weeks, and held the top spot for 22 of those weeks.
The project even crossed over and had success on the Billboard 200 charts, peaking as high as the number two spot and spending just shy of 100 weeks on the Top 200 Albums chart. Just goes to show you that anyone and everyone loves Willie Nelson.
Originally, the plan for “Always on My Mind” was to be included on a collaborative album with “Pancho & Lefty” and Merle Haggard. However, as many of us know, Merle only did what Merle wanted to do, and didn’t want to record the song.
Nelson actually spoke in his autobiography about Haggard refusing to sing “Always on My Mind” and his confusion around it, saying:
“We’ll never know what would have happened if Merle had really heard the song right. ‘Always on My Mind’ bowled me over the moment I first heard it, which is one way I pick songs to record.”
Luckily for us, Nelson didn’t give up on the song, and decided to basically create an entire album around it. As Willie has often done with covers across his career, he respected the original song while also putting his own personal touch on it.
“Always On My Mind”
Nelson brought another cover to the table with this song that was first made famous by Aretha Franklin.
I might be exaggerating here (and who really cares if I am if I’m positively talking about Willie), but it might be one of the best vocal recordings of Nelson’s career.
“Do Right Woman, Do Right Man”
And finally, you’ve got another cover that did justice to a song that was already great itself. Willie decided to give Paul Simon’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” a shot, and his country take on it was well received.