Gentle on My Mind (song)
“Gentle on My Mind” is a song written by John Hartford, which won four 1968 Grammy Awards. Hartford won the award for Best Folk Performance and Best Country & Western Song (Songwriter). The other two awards Best Country & Western Solo Vocal Performance, Male and Best Country & Western Recording, went to American country music singer Glen Campbell for his version of Hartford's song.
The song was released in June 1967 as the only single from the album of the same name. It was re-released in July 1968 to more success. Glen Campbell's version has received over 5 million plays on the radio. Campbell used “Gentle on My Mind” as the theme to his television variety show, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour between 1969 and 1972. Dean Martin's version, recorded in 1968, was a major hit in the United Kingdom; three versions of the song, Campbell's, Martin's and Patti Page's, all reached the top ten of the U.S. easy listening chart in 1968. The song was ranked number 16 on BMI's Top 100 Songs of the Century.
Hartford reported that he was inspired to write the song after seeing the film Doctor Zhivago when his own memories took over, and that it took about thirty minutes to write down. Hartford said of the writing:
I went to see the movie Doctor Zhivago the night I wrote it. Everyone's made a whole lot out of that. I know it gave me a feeling that caused me to start writing, but as far as saying it came from that, I don't know. It just came from experience. While I was writing it, if I had any idea that was going to be a hit, it probably would have come out differently and it wouldn't have been a hit. That just came real fast, a blaze, a blur.
Glen Campbell's recording
Campbell heard Hartford's original version on the radio and decided at once that he wanted to record it. At the time, Campbell was under contract with Capitol Records as a solo artist but had little success in establishing a name for himself. Campbell gathered some of his fellow Wrecking Crew session players to come into the Capitol studio to record a demo version that he could pitch to his producer Al De Lory. Between phrases and stanzas, Campbell would yell instructions to the players. He then left the rough recording for his producer to listen to. De Lory fell in love, not only with the song, but also with the recording itself. Without telling Campbell, he took the tape back into the studio and removed the unwanted verbiage from between the phrases. He then released the demo recording, which became a hit for Campbell.
The song was first released in 1967, and it was released in 1968 in the wake of the success of “By the Time I Get to Phoenix”. It reached No. 30 on Billboard's Country chart, and No. 39 on the Pop chart. The song however continued to receive widespread airplay; in 1990, BMI named it as the fourth-most-played song on radio ever in the United States. The song has also sold 251,000 digital copies as of August 2017 since it became available for download in the digital era.
Elvis Presley version
Elvis Presley recorded the song at American Sound Studios in Memphis in January 1969, and the song featured on the award-winning album From Elvis in Memphis.
Aretha Franklin version
American singer Aretha Franklin recorded the song in 1969 and released it as a single as the B-side to “I Can't See Myself Leaving You”. Her version peaked at number 76 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart and number 50 on the Hot Rhythm & Blues Singles chart. The song was featured on her album Soul '69.
Dean Martin version
American singer Dean Martin recorded the song in 1968 and released it as a single. His version peaked at number 2 on the UK Singles Chart, number 3 in Ireland and number 9 on the U.S. Billboard Easy Listening chart.
Patti Page version
American singer Patti Page recorded the song in 1968 and released it as a single. Her version peaked at number 66 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart and number 7 on the U.S. Billboard Easy Listening chart.
The Band Perry version
American country music group The Band Perry recorded the song in 2014 for the soundtrack of the Glen Campbell documentary Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me, earning a Grammy Award for Best Country Duo/Group Performance in 2015.
Altogether it has been recorded by over 300 different artists, though Campbell's version remains the best known in the United States.
The actor/singer Leonard Nimoy covered the song for his second album Two Sides of Leonard Nimoy, in 1968. The album cover notes that it is “the kind of song that Nimoy personally loves to sing.”
Roger Miller also recorded the song for his 1968 Smash/Mercury Records release A Tender Look at Love.
Frank Sinatra covered the song, as well as other Glen Campbell numbers, on his 1968 album Cycles.
Dean Martin covered the song on his 1968 album
Gentle on My Mind.
Tammy Wynette released a version in 1968 on her album, D-I-V-O-R-C-E.
Connie Smith released a version in 1968 on her album Sunshine and Rain.
Trini Lopez included “Gentle on My Mind” on his Reprise Records 1968 album Welcome to Trini Country (Reprise R-6300)
Frankie Laine covered the song on his 1968 album Take Me Back to Laine Country.
Nora Aunor on her 1968 album More, More, More of Nora Aunor
Andy Williams released a version in 1969 on his album, Happy Heart.
Claude François translated the lyrics into French and recorded it as “Si Douce A Mon Souvenir”, in 1970.
Bing Crosby released a version backed by the Count Basie big band in 1972 on their album, Bing 'n' Basie.
Benny Hill created a parody of the song to use in one of his skits, and released it as a 45 RPM, in 1972. It's titled 'The Dustbins Of Your Mind'.
Waylon Jennings released a version on his 1973 album, “Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town.”
Danish singer John Mogensen recorded a Danish version of the song in 1975, entitled Ensomhedens Gade Nr. 9 (“Lonely Street No. 9”).
In 1984, Brazilian singer-songwriter Roberto Carlos translated the lyrics into Portuguese (with Erasmo Carlos) and recorded it as “Caminhoneiro” (“Trucker” in Portuguese), played over 3.000 times on the Brazilian airwaves in just one day. Hartford sued Roberto Carlos in order to be credited as the song's composer. A Spanish version “El Camionero” was also released by Carlos. American singer Frankie Ruiz covered the Spanish version in salsa.
The Moody Brothers recorded a version of the song with John Hartford playing banjo on their Friends album recorded in Prague, Czechoslovakia in 1988.
Johnny Cash covered the song in his last years, released posthumously in 2003 on his Unearthed Recordings.
It was recorded by Lucinda Williams and this version was featured over the closing credits in the 2006 comedy movie Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.
R.E.M. performs a cover of this song, released in 2007 on Sounds Eclectic: The Covers Project, a covers album released by alternative radio KCRW with the participation of 15 different artists. The performance was recorded in 2001.
Crooked Fingers recorded a cover of the song for their 2010 cover album Reservoir Songs Volume Two.
The Tallest Man on Earth covered this song live, starting during his Spring 2011 tour that began at Coachella 2011.
Seasick Steve covered this song live, amongst other places he performed it at Carfest, UK, and during his tour in Europe in 2013.
Madeleine Peyroux covered this song on her 2013 album The Blue Room.
Jon Flemming Olsen covered this song in early 2014 on his album 'Immer wieder weiter' with German lyrics. He translated only a few lines of the original. Olsen has re-written the majority of the text. It's titled 'Das wird immer sein'.
The Band Perry won the 2015 Grammy for Best Country Duo/Group Performance for their recording of the song.
Billy Bragg and Joe Henry recorded the song in 2016 for their album Shine a Light: Field Recordings from the Great American Railroad.
Alison Krauss covered the song for her 2017 album Windy City.