Cindy Walker, prolific country songwriter, dies at 87
Texan wrote 500 songs, including 'You Don't Know Me' and 'Bubbles in My Beer'
Friday, March 24, 2006
She had never stepped inside a honky-tonk before writing "Bubbles In My Beer," one of the greatest country and western drinking songs ever, for Bob Wills. Her material ranged from the smooth ballad "Anne Marie" for country crooner Jim Reeves to the pop of "Dream Baby" for Roy Orbison to the wacky "Barstool Cowboy From Old Barstow" for Spike Jones and the City Slickers.
"Cindy Walker never wrote a bad song in her life," Nashville producer Fred Foster said two years ago when the prolific first lady of country songwriting was feted with a tribute concert at the Paramount Theatre. The spritely, gregarious Walker, whose best-known composition, "You Don't Know Me," was recorded by everyone from Eddy Arnold and Ray Charles to Elvis Presley and Michael Bolton, got up and danced a jig in the aisles a few times during the Paramount show. It seemed like she would live forever.
"You Don't Know Me"
XL Feature (includes audio)A Pioneer Songstress
But Walker, the subject of a new tribute album by Willie Nelson, died Thursday evening soon after being checked into a hospital in her native Mexia, about 40 miles east of Waco, with respiratory problems. She was 87.
"She affected me and everyone else who came along after her," Nelson said in a statement announcing the release of "You Don't Know Me: The Songs of Cindy Walker," which hit stores March 14. "We had to have heard her music before we could do ours."
The first woman inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970, Walker said in a 2004 interview with the American-Statesman that in a career that spanned seven decades, with nearly 500 songwriting credits, she never experienced discrimination or thought of herself as a rarity in a male-dominated field.
"The one thing that everybody in the music business is always looking for is a good song," she said. "If you could write some, it didn't matter if you were male, female or orangutan."
The last time I went out of town for a regional SF convention, we lost Don Knotts and Darren McGavin. This time it was Cindy Walker, the pride of my hometown of Mexia, Texas, and Buck Owens. I may stay at home from now on.