The evolution of a classic song.

The first recording, by Gwen McRae, in 1972. A little bit of soul.

Brenda Lee also recorded it in 1972. This version’s got a little bit more country in it.

Elvis Presley, 1972. Just before his resurgence and the beginning of his decline into drug and alcohol abuse, Elvis recorded this right after his breakup with Priscilla. Their divorce was finalized the following year.

Willie Nelson, 1982 (and again in 1987). Classic Willie. Song co-writer Johnny Christopher pitched this song to Merle Haggard, but Merle passed. Willie asked to record it, having never heard Elvis’ version. The song topped Billboard’s Hot Country Singles and made it to number five on the Billboard Hot 100. The release won the Grammy for Song of the Year, Best Country Song and Best Male Country Vocal Performance. The single was certified platinum. 

Pet Shop Boys, 1987. Recorded as a tribute to Elvis on the 10th anniversary of his death. That’s actor Joss Ackland in the back seat at the start of the video. Perhaps you recognize him as the South African bad guy in Lethal Weapon 2, or the Russian Ambassador in The Hunt for Red October. Footage for the video came from the Pet Shop Boys relatively unsuccessful musical film It Couldn’t Happen Here.

There have been tons of other covers of this classic that was written by Johnny Christopher, Mark James, and Wayne Carson. Got a favorite? As much as I’m an old fart history guy, the 1980s teenager in me prefers the Pet Shop Boys, even if the video makes no sense.