Song Writer, Poet and other
Heart of the Country
Subject: Lyrics, Always on My Mind
Understanding the lyrics of Always On My Mind, at the fifty thousand foot view is a vastly different from knowing intimately what those words feel like when love is wrapped snuggly around your lungs, pulling tighter and tighter as the days pile up behind you, until you fall to the ground flopping like a goldfish out of the glass bowl. Saying I miss someone, as Johnny Cash would sing, is as if drinking decaf coffee-it’s pointless.
The lyrics of a song speak uniquely to its listener, and are as a different as drinking a $15.00 vs. $1000.00 bottle of wine—depending on the moment, who you are with, what you are feeling, and the ambiance in your soul—oft the cheaper bottle can win hands down. This song for me is everything I think that lover’s don’t know about one another. When lover’s say the wrong things to one another, let pride have the final word, and leave one another’s arms without really wanting to, and in the end when it’s too late and years pass they never let go of that one person ‘who is always on their mind’. It’s that sort of a song that stirs the soul and boils the blood because, the song remembers when—another one of those songs that reminds us that music is rooted in our memories.
The first time I saw you sing, I hadn’t even reached forty inches. I was fortunate to have a father that took me along with him to see musicians performing in small clubs around Hollywood (this was back before age restrictions and seat belts). I’d sit in red Naugahyde circular booths next to my dad, sipping my Orange Crush, listening to soon to be famous people.
I had been around just long enough to appreciate a full-bodied songwriter, and the poetry in a song, but I was also young and enjoyed a song for all the wrong reasons, good beat, empty lyrics, and the raw joy it gave me. The first time hearing you sing, Always on My Mind, it flowed through my young soul without sticking. My understanding of the song came later. When I reached a seasoned state, after kissing a couple of boys, emptying a few boxes of tissues, picking up some baggage, I connected the dots, and the lyrics resonated. My breath dawdled in and out of my lungs, stopping at the chorus; it’s a coming of age song—having nothing to do with a number.
I was in a Willie frame of mind last night, and as I do when I am, I poured myself a glass from a $15.00 bottle of wine, and as expected, the song opened that sealed-tightly-never-to-be-opened-vault in the recesses of my mind, and that lost love of mine drifted out. He came to me in my dreams, and was there when my eyes opened this morning before the chimes of my alarm echoed tenderly in the darkened room. I shut them tightly as if that would keep him away; keep his presence from slipping between my conciseness and me. The weight of his presence was as real if he were lying on top of me. I know that his unexplained presence in my sub-conscience last night means I was with him, in his. It’s like that, as simple as breathing the same air. We were not sharing a bed, but we were together in that viaduct where the sleepless dreamers sail hoping for a glimpse of a lost lover.
Life moves on, new love is born, and the heart keeps double time with the metronome, but when I hear this song, I cannot help but look over my shoulder at the past and remember him. The renewed awareness that he is lost in the viaduct of my memories buckles my knees and my ridged posture slackens. I am longing for his touch, and the taste of the inside of his kiss—cayenne, salted honeydew melon. I tell myself it’s the song, and not his essence filling my lungs. He is always there; always close, always within reach, and always on my mind.
I wonder, Willie, what was in your heart the first time you sang this song? Now, all these years later, do you still feel the same when you are singing it?
A fan (but not the stalking kind)
Do you have a memory, one that is always there, in the back of your mind remembered with with a song? Which is your song that triggers the memory?