In the 50-year history of the CMA Awards, three songs have won Song of The Year for two consecutive years. The first was Freddie Hart’s “Easy Loving,” in 1971 and 1972. In 1980 and 1981, “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” took the trophy and the following year, “Always on My Mind” did it, repeating in 1983. By the time that song, penned by Wayne Carson, Johnny Christopher and Mark James, was cut by Willie Nelson, it had already been recorded by Brenda Lee and Elvis Presley, among others, and it would go on to be covered by even more acts after Nelson, including the Pet Shop Boys and, most recently, Loretta Lynn.
Nelson’s is perhaps the definitive version, having also won CMA Single of the Year in 1982, so it’s no surprise that as part of the continuing Forever Country Cover Series to celebrate the CMA’s golden anniversary, two renditions of the song are available in video performances from singer-songwriter Eric Paslay and British pop-country songstress Lucie Silvas. Silvas is married to John Osborne of Brothers Osborne, who co-produced her most recent LP, Letters to Ghosts. Her smoky, ethereal rendition of “Always on My Mind” highlights the song’s soulful pop sensibilities, blending them with the tender, bittersweet lyrics that made it a true country classic.
While Silvas accompanies herself on piano and is backed by two guitarists, Eric Paslay’s rendition strips things down further, and although he picks up the tempo ever so slightly, Paslay’s raw vocals highlight the song’s more mournful qualities. Other artists who have contributed to the Forever Country Cover Series include David Nail, Josh Turner, Laurn Alaina, Jon Pardi and more.