You Don’t Know Her

by

Cindy Walker was 22 in 1940 when she and her parents, visiting the west coast, drove past the Hollywood headquarters of Bing Crosby Enterprises. Cindy, who’d already been writing songs for ten years, just happened to have one with her that she’d written with Bing in mind. Before the day was out, she’d sung the song to Bing’s brother Larry, who took her right to Paramount Studios, where she repeated her performance for the man himself. The song, Lone Star Trail, was a hit for Crosby, and Cindy Walker was on her way.

She wrote dozens of songs for Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys (including Bob’s signature number Cherokee Maiden), did some recording of her own, and, after spending a dozen years in Hollywood, settled into a routine of spending half the year writing in her home town of Mexia, Texas, and the other half plugging her songs in Nashville. By the time of her death in 2006 she’d had over 500 songs recorded, among them hits for Eddy Arnold and Ray Charles (You Don’t Know Me), Webb Pierce (I Don’t Care), Roy Orbison (Dream Baby), Jim Reeves (Distant Drums) and many, many others. When Walker was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1997, Harlan Howard called her “the greatest living country songwriter,” a title he could easily have claimed as his own.

Ms. Walker’s songs were often written with a specific artist in mind, and as a result there’s no easily defined Cindy Walker style. The best introduction to her work is Willie Nelson’s 2006 tribute, You Don’t Know Me: The Songs of Cindy Walker. These are songs he cares about, and Fred Foster’s production fits them perfectly. For now, you can get started with Asleep at the Wheel and their guest-filled version of Cherokee Maiden. If you like it, check out their Ride With Bob, featuring 17 Bob Wills classics performed in the same spirit. The Asleep at the Wheel video now has embedding disabled – sorry! Instead you get Eddy Arnold doing You Don’t Know Me, way back in 1956. Please enjoy.

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2 Responses to “You Don’t Know Her”

  1. Michael Bates Says:

    This link still works.

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