I wrote earlier about a show I went to which was a snapshot of Elvis Presley’s life 1968-1969, when he started giving concerts again after so many years of increasingly poor films. It was a great show, brilliantly performed. The part which has stuck in my mind most was where ‘Elvis’ sang ‘Suspicious Minds’ – the music slowed and began to unravel, just as Elvis himself was unravelling, broken by the different pressures on him – his lack of confidence and fear of failure, his enduring loss of his mother and twin brother, the squeeze put on him by ‘Colonel’ Tom Parker, drugs to make him sleep/wake him up, food/not eating… and so on. It was a superb part of the show.
I am not a great fan of Elvis to be honest, even though I realise he was a star of major brilliance and had a considerable impact on modern music, however one of my favourite songs is ‘Suspicious Minds.’ It was written by Mark James, which was the professional name of Francis Rodney Zambon, who was born in 1940 so was five years younger than Elvis. Mark James recorded the song himself in 1968, but it wasn’t particularly successful – the breakthrough came the following year when Elvis made it the sensational hit it became. Mark James wrote many successful songs, including ‘The Eyes Of A New York Woman’, ‘Hooked on a Feeling’, ‘It’s Only Love’ ,’Sunny Sunday’ and ‘You Were Always on my Mind’. Other singers who had success thanks to his songs were B.J. Thomas and Brenda Lee – not counting all the well-known artists who recorded Suspicious Minds and ‘Always on my Mind’,
‘Suspicious Minds’ became Elvis’s eighteenth and last #1 single; as an insight into the then recording process, it was recorded in January 1969 and released in August of that year although Elvis first sang it publicly in the July. It became a hit across the world and achieved #1 in Australia, Belgium and Canada (but only #2 in the UK).
The mark of its success as a song can in part be measured by how many other artists recorded it – and I remember it by The Fine Young Cannibals, a group I really liked.
- Wille Nelson
- Dwight Yoakum
- B. J. Thomas
- Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter
- Candi Staton
- Clay Aiken
- Martina McBride
- Gareth Gates (#1 in the UK)
My featured image is of Superintendent Frank Froest, a British police officer who certainly did have a suspicious mind!