With just him and his acoustic guitar, Paslay crooned his way through the longing love song with his signature rich vocals. While Paslay notes that Elvis Presley was the original master of the classic, it’s Nelson who brought the song to what it became in country music.
“I chose to perform Willie Nelson’s ‘Always on my Mind.’ I grew up in central Texas and the ‘Red-Headed Stranger’ was always on my mind. Hanging out in central Texas going Willie Nelson, one of the best songwriters ever, you know his voice, you know his guitar trigger and the ironic thing was he wasn’t a writer on that song. So it’s kind of wild that one of the best writers in the world went, ‘You know what? This is a great song and I’m going to record it.’ I think he recorded it ten years after Elvis did, so I think it was just long enough to where people needed that great song again. I’ve always loved it. Wake up singing it. I’m just honored that I got to perform it for the CMA 50th Anniversary,” explained Paslay to Sounds Like Nashville exclusively during his cover session.
Nelson won quite the amount of awards with “Always on my Mind,” including Song and Single of the Year in 1982 and Song of the Year again in 1983. To this day, many artists take on the meaningful tune in their sets and use it to tug at the hearts of their fans as Nelson once did.
With the 50th anniversary of the CMAs quickly approaching, many artists have contributed their voices to the Forever Country Cover Series to honor the awards show. Leading up to the awards, fans can head over to the Forever Country website to see more celebratory features including more covers, sweepstakes and info about the show.
The 50th Annual CMA Awards will air live from Nashville on Wednesday, November 2, at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.