All songwriters have different methods in which they come up with their compositions. In Wayne Carson’s case, he would develop the chord structure and melody first. He reasoned that if the melody was “singable,” the words wouldn’t be that far away. In his mind, a song is just a story set to music, and what made “Always On My Mind” so magical and successful was that virtually everyone on the planet had been there. The song touched base with all who heard it.
Wayne wrote two verses to “Always On My Mind” at his home in Springfield, Missouri while commuting to Memphis as a session guitar player. He also was cutting some sides for the tiny Mongoose label, a branch of Fred Foster’s Monument Records in Nashville. One day at a session, Carson showed “Always On My Mind” to his producer, longtime friend Chips Moman, who said, “Wayne, I think this song needs a bridge” (Carson had purposely written it without a bridge because he didn’t think it needed one). Moman suggested that Wayne go upstairs to his office (using the piano in there) and try to develop a bridge for “Always On My Mind.”
While Carson was up there working on it, guitarist Johnny Christopher came wandering in and, noticing that Wayne was having difficulty, asked him if he needed a little help. Carson gratefully accepted the assistance. Then in walked Mark James, the composer of Elvis Presley’s 1969 pop mega-hit “Suspicious Minds.” James was there to pick up his mail at the publishing company (which was next door to the studio) and he asked, “What are you guys doing?” Wayne said, “Well, Chips wants a bridge for this song and we’re trying to come up with it.” Between the three of them, they finally came up with the two little lines, the bridge needed to complete “Always On My Mind.”