Monday 27 July 2015

Wayne Carson, belatedly

I missed last week's sad news of the death of Wayne Carson, who wrote that great pop song Always On My Mind. The intense emotional drama of Elvis's performance (he was thinking, they say, of his mother) and the electro pomp of the Pet Shop Boys' recording both go all out to magnify and exalt the song, whereas Willie Nelson (typically) strips it down to its core and his version is, I think, definitively wondrous. It's a song that could have been written for Willie's unique styling, and it's no wonder it became one of his signature songs. Here he is in the 'official video' version, playing an unusually swanky guitar.
 Carson also wrote at least one other great pop song - The Letter, which gave Alex Chilton's band The Box Tops their breakthrough hit. Hard to believe that Chilton - something of a lost genius of pop (who died five years ago) - was just 16 when he recorded that... The Box Tops were also the first to record Carson's Neon Rainbow and Soul Deep. That's quite a legacy. RIP.


  1. In 1985, I listened to Alex Chilton perform solo in a nearly empty bar in Savannah, Georgia. He was doing some beautiful covers of relatively obscure Memphis and New Orleans R&B songs, including a stunning version of "The Dark End of the Street", immortalized in 1967 by James Carr. Unfortunately, the magic was brought to a premature end by a drunk jackass insistently demanding that Chilton play "The Letter". In response, he silently packed up his guitar and amp, and walked out the door.