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Gentle on My Mind


John Hartford wrote and first recorded Gentle On My Mind (RCA 47-9175) in 1967. His record reached #60 on the country chart. He was inspired to compose the song after seeing the movie Dr. Zhivago. The travelling scenes and pleasant images left a lasting impression on him. Hartford and music publisher Chuck Glaser had first offered the song to Johnny Cash, who turned it down. A few months after Hartford’s release, Glen Campbell recorded Gentle On My Mind (Capitol 5939). His recording did slightly better than Hartford’s, reaching #30 on the country chart. In 1968 the record was reissued and hit #39 on the Hot 100 chart and #8 on the Easy-Listening chart. Gentle On My Mind subsequently became the theme song of Campbell’s CBS-TV variety series, the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour. The song was awarded four Grammys in 1968: Best Folk Performance, Best Country and Western Song, Best Country and Western Recording and Best Country and Western Vocal Performance by a Male (Campbell). Other recordings of the song include those by Patti Page (Columbia 44353) in 1968, Boots Randolph (Monument 1081) in 1968, Aretha Franklin (Atlantic 2619) in 1969, and Dean Martin (Reprise 0812) in 1969. 

Elvis recorded Gentle On My Mind on January 15, 1969, at the American Sound Studios in Memphis. Ronnie Milsap played piano and Ed Kollis played harmonica on the recording.


It's knowin' that your door is always open
And you path is free to walk
That makes me tend to keep my sleeping bag rolled up
And stashed behind your couch

It's knowin' I'm not shackled
By forgotten words and bonds
And the ink stains that have dried upon some line
That keeps you in the back roads
By the rivers of my memory
It keeps you ever gentle on my mind

It's not clinging to the rocks and ivy
Planted on their columns now that binds me
Or something that somebody said
Because they thought we'd fit together walking
It's just knowing that the world will not be cursin'
Or forgiving when I walk along some railroad track and find
That you're moving on the back roads
By the rivers of my memory and for hours
You're just gentle on my mind

Though the wheat fields and the clothes lines
And the junk yards and the highways come between us
And some other woman's cryin' to her mother
'Cause she turned and I was gone
I still might run in silence
Tears of joy might stain my face
And the summer sun might burn me 'till I'm blind
But not to where I cannot see you
Walking in the back roads
By the rivers flowing gentle on my mind

I dip my cup of soup from a gurgling,
cracking cauldron in some train yard
My beard a roughing cold pile
And a dirty hat pulled low across my face
Through cupped hands around a tin can
I pretend to hold you to my breast and find
That you're wavin' from the back roads
By the rivers of my memory
Ever smiling ever gentle on my mind

Where it was released:
Released for the first time on the album From Elvis In Memphis »



- From Elvis In Memphis (1969) »

- Welcome to My World (1977) »

- The Greatest Show on Earth (1978) »

- Country Memories (1978) »

- The Memphis Record (1987)

- From Nashville to Memphis – The Essential 60’s Masters (1993)

- Great Country Songs (1996)

- More Romantics (1997)

- Suspicious Minds (1999)

- The Country Side Of Elvis (1999)

- Legendary Elvis Presley (2000)

- Country Collection (2001) – Time Life

- Country Rock (2001)

- From Elvis In Memphis; Promised Land; Moody Blue (2001)

- Great Country Songs, Remastered Edition (2003) 

– From Elvis in Memphis (2013) - FTD »

American Sound 1969 (2019) - FTD »


Bootleg Releases:

- Behind Closed Doors (1979) - Audifon Records

- Unfinished Business (1980) - Reel to Reel Record Company

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