Always on My Mind / In My House

Writers - Thompson/James/Christopher - Tennant/Lowe
First released - 1987
Original album - Introspective
Producer - Julian Mendelsohn, Pet Shop Boys, David Jacob, Ian Curnow, Phil Harding
Subsequent albums - Discography, PopArt, Pandemonium, Ultimate, Inner Sanctum, Smash
Other releases - single (UK #1, US #4, US Dance #8); live bonus track with single "You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk"

The Pet Shop Boys, then in the full flush of their early popularity, were among a number of artists who were invited onto a 1987 British TV show commemorating the tenth anniversary of Elvis Presley's death. Each artist was asked to perform a rendition of a song made famous by "The King." Not particular fans of Elvis, the Boys were initially cool to the idea, but ultimately decided in favor of it. They chose to perform "Always on My Mind," one of Presley's latter-day successes. One of the reasons they picked it was because, as Chris has put it, the song was from Elvis's "bloated Vegas period," which Chris professes to prefer to his fifties "rockabilly" heyday. Although Neil and Chris considered it a one-off, public reaction was overwhelmingly positive. The fans essentially demanded it as a single. So our heroes obliged—their very first cover song.

Critics quickly commented on the almost mechanical, icy-cold performance, which transformed what had previously sounded tender (as in Willie Nelson's hit version from a few years before) into something that seemed rather callous, at least to many ears. One writer even described it as "singularly mean-spirited." In fact, when you pay close attention to the lyrics, it really comes across as a somewhat nasty song. In essence, the narrator is saying, "Yeah, I know I've been a rotten pig who treats you like dirt, but you should be pleased that at least I think about you a lot." One site visitor has noted that the last line sung by Neil in the Introspective version is "Maybe I didn't love you…," suggesting a final realization by the narrator that he has indeed never really loved the person to whom he's singing, despite his efforts to convince himself otherwise. Perhaps this song even expresses his sense of guilt over this fact—an interesting and quite tenable hypothesis.

More than two decades later, in a 2010 interview with Mike Atkinson of the Nottingham Evening Post, Neil himself neatly summarized his and Chris's take on the song. It's "sung from the point of view of a selfish and self-obsessed man, who is possibly incapable of love, and who is now drinking whiskey and feeling sorry for himself. It’s a completely tactless song." Selfishness, self-obsession, and tactlessness aside, it was a brilliant rendition and proved to be one of the Boys' all-time biggest hits.

The extended Introspective mix melds it into a brief (and comparatively insubstantial) PSB original titled "In My House," punning on the pronounced influence of house music on the track.



Officially released

Official but unreleased

List cross-references