Always On My Mind

by Brenda on May 30, 2011

Willie Nelson
Song Writer, Poet and other
Heart of the Country

Subject:  Lyrics, Always on My Mind

Dear Willie~

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.Cowboy Bar

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?

{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Nancy May 30, 2011 at 1:50 am

Gee – just one song, Brenda? The Way We Were is always a heartbreaker for me. Rascal Flatt's, What Hurts the Most, is another.


Brenda May 30, 2011 at 2:38 am

I know, not fair of me. I have a library of songs, but this is one of my most favorites..


Amber May 30, 2011 at 2:12 am

Without thinking too hard (and maybe because he is playing on my Pandora station at the moment) Ben Folds holds lots of memories for me.

I used to blast his "Whatever and Ever Amen" album in my parents house when I was in high school.

His song, "The Luckiest" was on my sister's wedding "album" (The wedding favor given to guests)

He was Jonas' first concert. Technically. I went to see him when I was pregnant. I felt Jonas dance the whole night.

The acapella version of "Boxing" would lull a screaming Jonas to sleep in the first few difficult months.

No matter what my mood, or what the occasion, there was always a song of his that played.


Brenda May 30, 2011 at 2:40 am

I love Pandora.. All good songs, Amber. I like it when a song pulls me out of a current moment and hurls me into the past, but what I love more is finding a new song unexpectedly. Yesterday I found 'Just Breathe' by Pearl Jam.. I was instantly smitten. Love those moments.


Kelly Hashway May 30, 2011 at 2:31 am

I think I have any memories triggered by songs like this, but I totally get the dream you had. I've had those!


Brenda May 30, 2011 at 2:34 am

Hi Kelly – I confess, I love these types of dreams because they inspire my writing. I am lost without music.


Brynne May 30, 2011 at 2:35 am

BRAVO! Love this…beautiful writing, insights, pictures in my mind, and smiles in my heart. What a treasure you have shared with us today Brenda! Thank you!


Brenda May 30, 2011 at 2:42 am

Brynne – you are making me blush. Gracias, my dear.


Bella May 30, 2011 at 3:48 am

Brenda, songs for me are like aromas in their power to trigger memories. I can be doing whatever I'm doing and suddenly I hear a song that invokes a memory and bam! I'm at that space in time all over again. The songs "I will Survive" and "Waiting to Exhale" got me through divorce from husband number one. hee hee! And I won't bore you with the other song titles that are significant to me, just know there are plenty. I don't know where I'd be without music!


Brenda May 30, 2011 at 4:26 am

Bella, I know exactly what you mean about music. I could tell my story in the music I was listening to, truly. I have my favorites, this is one of mine and it's always on the list.


kim sisto robinson May 30, 2011 at 9:02 am


No matter what you are writing about, you always stir me, awaken my senses. "his kiss—cayenne, salted honeydew melon." Love love love that :) xx


Brenda May 30, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Aahh, Kim you make me smile, as always, much appreciated.


Elizabeth Young May 30, 2011 at 1:54 pm

The Mavericks. "Oh what a kiss."


Elizabeth Young May 30, 2011 at 1:57 pm

Sorry, The Mavericks, "Oh what a thrill!" Same difference!


Brenda May 30, 2011 at 3:04 pm

Elizabeth – I can't believe you know the Mavericks. Me, too, me too! Music for all Occasions, is a favorite. Glad to see you again..


Jessica Brant May 30, 2011 at 2:28 pm


Loved you post… I have way to many song that trigger all sorts of memories when I hear them… The list would be expansive and way to long..

By the way this is my first time to your site via Blogplicity




Brenda May 31, 2011 at 3:16 am

Hi Jessica – Thanks for coming by, will visit you too. I know about having too many, me too, but this one stands out for me, clearly.


Debra May 30, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Mine is “Loving you” by Minnie Riperton because it was popular when my husband and I met and because it was ‘our’ song.

Brenda, this is another of your remarkable posts. Great piece of memoir writing that pulls the reader into your world and brings a smile to the lips. I could almost taste the glass of $15.00 wine, and I could certainly hear Willie singing “You are always on my mind.”


Brenda May 31, 2011 at 3:15 am

Debra – I remember that song, hard one to forget. I am amazed how the song remembers when, how it can pull us to our knees in less time than it takes to inhale. Thanks kindly as always for your thoughtful words. You are a jem.


Debra May 30, 2011 at 2:54 pm

Oh, and did I mention that the guy playing guitar beside the white birdcage looks exactly like my husband when we got married? Yep, that’s him alright. What a memory evoking post!


Brenda May 31, 2011 at 3:15 am

That is too funny. Does he have a alter ego, which entails singing in a band?


melissa May 30, 2011 at 4:58 pm

the first time i loved forever with those verses from e.e. cummings…

it just brought me to tears again… i had composed myself over two days and there just seems to be something that reminds me of him…;)


Brenda May 31, 2011 at 3:12 am

Melissa – I had to listen before leaving for work this morning. You are correct, tis lovely. Thanks kindly for visiting grrlguide, hope to see you again.


aig63 May 31, 2011 at 2:50 am

Wow – wonderful writing! Amazing.

Van Morrison – "Have I Told You Lately" – hands down.


Brenda May 31, 2011 at 3:13 am

I love Van. For me, it's Brand New Day. Love that one..


Cathy May 31, 2011 at 7:09 am

Great post Brenda. Songs are almost as potent as smells, which carry the most memory for me. The song 'Bad Company' by the band of the same name makes me start worrying about my choices in men all over again. Anything by David Bowie makes me want to flip up my middle finger at the world and stop worrying. Santana can still make me swoon, Mick Jagger still seduces. Aiyaaaa what a blueprint!


Brenda May 31, 2011 at 7:17 am

Cathy – I couldn't agree more.. Music is where I take refuge, where I find my center if it goes astray. I am overwhelmed by the responses, and glad to see so many are as touched by music as I am. My and my words thank you kindly.


Cathy May 31, 2011 at 7:12 am

PS – and yet here I stand in the 21st century, a middle-aged, hot-flashy, finger-snapping, foot-tapping jazz girl.


Brenda May 31, 2011 at 7:19 am

Well of course, I wouldn't have thought otherwise. :-)


pam bono May 31, 2011 at 8:03 am

heard moon river on sex in the city..brought me way back…


Brenda May 31, 2011 at 8:09 am

I heard 'Chasing Rainbows' the other day and I was instantly 16 and sitting in your bedroom. Music = time travel.


Debra May 31, 2011 at 9:08 am

Brenda, my husband did sing in a band, and is still a professional musician, only a solo pianist like, say, George Winston. Not as famous though. Maybe some day…


Brenda June 1, 2011 at 4:08 am

I've always wondered what it would be like to live with a musician. :-)


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