profile image
by jeremylr
on 9/6/12
I like this button1 person likes this

B.J., many thanks for the help last night; here is the complete question; go to the final paragraph below; as for those fairly recent recordings with Mark, do you recall any titles?

How did you meet Mark James?

Mark was a fellow musician of mine. He played the guitar and sang in another band during the time I was in Houston, before I had any hits. We were buddies. Steve Tyrell was another friend of ours.

Steve had gotten a job as a promotion man with Scepter Records, and he influenced Mark to move up to Memphis and start writing songs. By then I had had a few hits, including “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “Mama,” and “Billy and Sue.”

Around 1967 Mark called me and said, “Hey, B.J., they’re really recording a lot of hit records up here at American Studio. They’ve got a lot of great writers in their stable. I’m writing songs, too, so why don’t you move up here? I think you could cut a bunch of hit records if you did.” I replied, “Hey, I’d love to.” So my brother and I packed our stuff and moved to Memphis.

I think I recorded more of his songs than any other artist. I have a lot of his songs on my albums that weren’t hit singles.

To single out a few, “Living Again” [B-side of “Everybody’s Out of Town,” on Young and in Love, 1969], “Mr. Mailman” [Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head, 1969], “I've Been Alone Too Long” [Songs, 1973], and “Man to Conquer All” [Back Against the Wall, 1992] are a few of my favorites [Author’s Note: “Pass the Apple Eve” from 1969’s Young and in Love is also noteworthy, featuring an impassioned vocal, Reggie Young’s driving sitar, and a tight rhythm section].

Of course, Mark’s biggest record, “Suspicious Minds,” was recorded by Elvis [Author’s Note: Thomas recorded a similar version, retaining Chips Moman and the Memphis Boys. It also appears on Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head]. It certainly made his name.

About five or six years ago I went in the studio and cut a few things that he wrote. We haven’t really had any success lately, record-wise. In fact, I think Mark has more or less gone into writing film scores, and I’m not sure he’s really writing pop stuff anymore. Regardless, Mark’s a great guy and an amazing songwriter.