Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Wayne Carson, Songwriter Who Penned 'Always on My Mind,' Dies at 72

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Wayne Carson, Songwriter Who Penned 'Always on My Mind,' Dies at 72

Article excerpt

Songwriter Wayne Carson was on the phone with his wife in the early 1970s, apologizing for being away from home so much for work. "I said, Well, I know I've been gone a lot, but I've been thinking about you all the time,' Carson said in a 1988 interview with the Los Angeles Times. "And it just struck me like someone had hit me with a hammer. I told her real fast I had to hang up because I had to put that into a song.

The result was the wistful ballad "Always on My Mind, which was one of Willie Nelson's most enduring hits. It was recorded by numerous other performers - as diverse as Elvis Presley and the Pet Shop Boys - and won Carson a Grammy for Song of the Year in 1983.

Carson, 72, died Monday at a convalescent hospital in Franklin, Tennessee. He was being treated for a number of conditions and died of congestive heart failure, said Shirley Hutchins, administrator of his music publishing company.

He had other hits, most prominently "The Letter, which was the No. 1 song in the country when performed by the Box Tops in 1967. Three years later, it was back on the charts again in a version by Joe Cocker.

Carson wasn't the sole writer of "Always on My Mind. Mark James and Johnny Christopher shared the credit, not to mention the royalties, estimated at more than $1 million as of 1988.

But Carson said the bulk of the song was his. It begins:

Maybe I didn't love you

Quite as often as I could have

And maybe I didn't treat you

Quite as good as I should have

"I had the two verses to Always on My Mind' for a year, Carson said in a recorded interview done for a book on songwriting. But the song's producer suggested it needed a bridge, a songwriting element used to break up repetitive verses.

Carson, sitting at the piano at a recording studio in Memphis, couldn't come up with one. Fellow songwriters James and Christopher happened by, and he asked for their help.

Together, in a brief session, they came up with a bridge that includes the line, "Tell me that your sweet love hasn't died.

Carson said the bridge was, in his opinion, the least memorable part of the song. But he added, "I will say this: The song probably by all accounts would have never been exactly the same song without that bridge. …

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