Original v. Cover — #62 in a Series

Angry01 Pictures, Images and Photos

Yet another St. Valentine’s Day will soon descend upon us.  Those enchanted by fresh romance will agonize at length, wondering how best to make that day special.  Some have spent many years with their beloved, appreciative of the predictability that has replaced the uncertain excitement of days long past.  Properly remembering others on that day may derive from desire, a sense of obligation or a confusing combination of the two.  

St. Valentine’s Day can also be a gloomy time of year. Thoughts may turn to long ago love affairs, of intoxicating hopes that eventually gave way to bitter disappointment. Yet other musings may drift toward the long hoped-for relationship of a lifetime, that almost happened but didn’t.  

The sense of lost opportunity may be the cruelest vexation of all.  That potential love interest may have entered our life two weeks or a month before both are to depart for opposite corners of the country.  Maybe you met that someone at a particularly difficult time of your life, when you were preoccupied with one of the many crises that life casts upon us, and once the dust settled, that person was gone. Perhaps the most maddening frustrations occur when matters of romance are determined by misleading or incomplete information.

After months smitten with that special someone, finally, at a large gathering, our hoped-for hearthrob finally recognizes and approaches us.  They flash a radiant smile that unleashes the butterflies in our stomach, sends a wave of sudden warmth throughout  our entire body and sets the heart to racing. Now face to face, all the clever lines we’ve rehearsed day and night vanish.  Tongue-tied and aghast with horror, we panic and placing both feet firmly in our mouth, proceed to utter the most inane comments of our entire life.

Only after that smile fades and our companion politely begs our leave do we glance downward, noting that one of our shoes is untied, we are wearing two different colored socks, our fly is partially open, an enormous ketchup stain covers our white shirt from neck to waist and then, breathlessly collecting ourselves in the restroom, are horrified by the image in the mirror.  Somehow, in the space of the past couple of hours, our face has assumed the look of the before picture in a Clearasil commercial.  

Sadly, your best qualities eluded the attention of your intended. One continues to wonder if that fateful chance meeting had occurred on a different day if that person might have become our life partner. The odds of any two people becoming a long-term item are exceedingly slight; however, that razor-thin sliver of doubt can inflict far more pain than any splinter we may pick up from a cheap bleacher seat.  Once removed, the latter ceases to cause pain and the healing can begin immediately.  But those mental slivers defy easy removal and even though we may not recognize the pain for years at a time, it can return with a vengeance when least expected or welcomed.  

An erroneous or fragmented impression of someone who becomes an important part of our life carries its own perils.  Even though few people would purchase a home without surveying the upstairs, the basement, the yard and order an expert inspection of the premises before taking the plunge, relationship decisions are sometimes made based upon use one or two qualities that shine so brightly that all the others disappear in the blinding glare.  It is only with time that those previously overlooked qualities emerge, in some cases, long after important life decisions have been made.  

Indeed, the importance of knowing well those we allow into our lives cannot be overestimated.  

That said, the primary message of the song is that love unexpressed will almost surely be love unrequited. Was there someone in your life who kept you awake countless nights and despite all, fear kept you from telling them? Perhaps someone you’d always thought to be a dear friend only wanted much more, but for the same reasons never told you. The possibilities can be mind boggling.

Matters of romance, with all its joys and pitfalls, have provided fodder for comedies and tragedies through the ages.  Entire libraries could be filled with books, films and music that explore its manifold mysteries. We’ve all seen the stories of high school sweethearts whose lives steered them in different directions, only to meet again at a 50th or 60th class reunion, when that long-dormant young love blossoms anew.

This week’s selection, an oft-covered ballad of romance that could have been but wasn’t, tells of the pain that can occur when that hoped-for love interest, for whatever reason, doesn’t really know who we are.

Written by two singer-songwriters who were giants in their field in 1955, Cindy Walker and Richard Edward Arnold, the song was first recorded by Arnold later that same year. A cover version by Jerry Vale was the first to succeed, peaking at #14 on the pop charts in 1956. Arnold’s version then climbed to success two months later, rising to #10 on the country charts. Ray Charles then revived the song in 1962, taking it to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, after releasing it on his #1 album, Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music. Charles’ version also topped the easy listening charts for three weeks and can be found on the soundtrack for the 1993 comedy film, “Groundhog Day.” Yet another cover version by Mickey Gilley in 1981 would become his twelfth #1 country hit.  

This week’s selection has been performed and recorded by hundreds of artists, including Carmen McRae, Manfred Mann, Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Meryl Streep, Eva Cassidy, Van Morrison, Michael Boltan, Emmylou Harris, Michael Buble, Willie Nelson, Michael McDonald and Asleep at the Wheel, all of which are included in this essay.

More information about the two songwriters will be found in opening comments by this writer, which will be posted either much later this evening or tomorrow morning.  Please consider stopping by again tomorrow for some more fascinating details and great music.

Having exhausted all reasonable clues for the present time, without further ado, this week’s selection, written by Cindy Walker and Richard Edward Arnold (aka Eddy Arnold), is the popular standard, “You Don’t Know Me.”  

Co-songwriter Eddy Arnold’s recorded version was the first to be released on April 21, 1956, but was the second to appear on the music charts, two months after Jerry Vale’s rendition hit #14 on the pop charts. Two months after Vale’s success, Arnold’s original version rose to #10 on the Country charts…

Jerry Vale recorded a version with Percy Faith and His Orchestra and Chorus which became a hit, peaking at #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in 1956…

Cash Box magazine combined all best-selling versions into one position, listing Carmen McRae on this list, even though she didn’t appear on the Billboard Top 100 Sides listing.  From 1956?…

Lenny Welch’s biggest hit was a cover version of the big band standard “Since I Fell for You,” which peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in 1963. His version of “Ebb Tide” rose to #25 in 1964 and his cover version of “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do” ranked #34 in 1970. “Ebb Tide” was featured in the film “Sweet Bird of Youth.” Welch also recorded the first vocal version of “A Taste of Honey” in 1962. Here is his interpretation of “You Don’t Know Me” from 1959…

The best known version of this song was released by Ray Charles in April of 1962, on his #1 album, “Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music”, which peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.  This version also topped the Easy Listening chart for three weeks in 1962, and was included in the 1993 comedy film, “Groundhog Day.”  

Floyd Cramer, country piano legend, turned in a very pleasant version of “You Don’t Know Me”, which bears his signature style.  From 1964…

Rock ‘n roll teen idol Rick Nelson tried his hand (and voice) at country music on this version from 1965…

Manfred Mann was perhaps best known for their 1964 #1 hit, “Do Wah Diddy Diddy”, and appear in this live performance, featuring Klaus Voorman in 1966…

Here is a scene from the September, 1967 Elvis Presley film, “Clambake”, in which he sings “You Don’t Know Me.”  He was backed by the Jordanairres.  Presley re-recorded the song with RCA later…

Roy Orbison’s biggest hit was “Oh, Pretty Woman”, which rose to #1 in 1964.  He turned in this performance of “You Don’t Know Me” on September 24, 1973…

Country artist Mickey Gilley recorded his interpretation of “You Don’t Know Me” in 1981, which would become his twelfth #1 country hit…

In addition to garnering Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations for Best Actress for her performance in the 1990 film, “Postcards from the Edge”, Meryl Streep lent her vocal talents to the film as well.  Here is her performance of “You Don’t Know Me” from the film…

Legend Eva Cassidy recorded this version with Chuck Brown in 1992.  Don’t miss this one!

Here’s Emmylou Harris from 1994…

Van Morrison included this great interpretation of “You Don’t Know Me” on his 1995 album, entitled “Days Like This”…

The Gene Harris Quartet turned in this lush, jazz/blues/gospel-oriented version in 1995.  Includes some great piano work…

Canadian singer Jann Arden recorded a version in 1997 that appears on the soundtrack for the movie, “My Best Friend’s Wedding.”  The video includes scenes from the film…

U. S. based jazz and blues singer Patricia Barber was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship in 2003 in the “Creative Arts – Music Composition” category.  Here is her cover version of “You Don’t Know Me” from 2000…

Michael Bolton first recorded “You Don’t Know Me” in 2004. The following is from his DVD “Live at the Royal Albert Hall 2009″…

Ray Charles re-recorded “You Don’t Know Me” with Diana Krall on his album of duets, “Genius Loves Company”, the only song common to both of Charles’ two #1 albums.  From August 31, 2004…

American singer, songwriter and pianist Peter Cincotti turned in this performance on September 14, 2004.  He was the youngest performer ever to reached #1 on the Billboard jazz charts in 2002, at the age of nineteen.

Two-time Grammy winner and multiple Juno Award winner Michael Buble from 2005…

Willie Nelson performs “You Don’t Know Me” on this 2005 music video…

Asleep at the Wheel performs a stellar version of “You Don’t Know Me”, from their “Live from Austin, TX” DVD, released in 2006.  Don’t miss this one!

Michael McDonald first performed “You Don’t Know Me” on March 11, 2008. This great performance was posted on May 25, 2010…

Scottish singer-songwriter Leon Jackson from October 28, 2008…

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6 comments

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    • Robyn on January 29, 2011 at 5:08 am

    …in the third word:

  1. Cindy Walker was a phenomonal songwriter and a pretty decent vocalist.  

    Cindy Walker Pictures, Images and Photos

    A little about her humble beginnings and willingness to take a risk, courtesy of wikipedia…

    In 1940, Walker, at the age of twenty-two, accompanied her parents on a business trip to Los Angeles, California. As they were driving down Sunset Boulevard she asked her father to stop the car near the Bing Crosby Enterprises building. Walker later recalled: “I had decided that if I ever got to Hollywood, I was going to try to show Bing Crosby a song I had written for him called ‘Lone Star Trail'”. Her father said “You’re crazy, girl”, but nonetheless stopped the car.[5] Walker went inside the building to pitch her song and emerged shortly afterward to ask her mother to play the piano for her. Bing Crosby’s brother Larry Crosby had agreed to listen to the song; Walker sang “Lone Star Trail” to him, accompanied by her mother. Larry Crosby was impressed and aware that his brother was looking for a new Western song to record. The next day Cindy played guitar and sang “Lone Star Trail” for Bing Crosby at Paramount Studios (where he was making a movie). Crosby arranged for her to record a demo with Dave Kapp of Decca Records, who was also impressed and offered her a recording contract.[1][3] “Lone Star Trail” was recorded and became a top-ten hit for Bing Crosby.[6]

    More than four decades after her first hit song, her last would be recorded in the fifth decade of her career by Ricky Skaggs, his rendition of “I Don’t Care”, the same year that Mickey Gilley’s version of “You Don’t Know Me” topped the country charts.  

    In the meantime, she led a stellar and varied career.  Later in 1940, she appeared as a singer in Gene Autrey’s film, “Ride Tenderfoot Ride.”  She recorded several songs with Texas Jim Lewis and His Lone Star Cowboys, including “Seven Beers with the Wrong Man”, which in 1941 was an early precursor to today’s music videos.  In 1944 Walker recorded a song written by someone else that became a Top 10 hit – “When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again.”  In 1970, Walker became a charter member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.  

    An estimated 500 of Walker’s songs have been recorded, reaching the Top 40 charts (country and/or pop) more than 400 times.  In September, 1997, when inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, Ms. Walker gave this poignant acceptance speech, again courtesy of wikipedia…

    In the 1980s, my mother bought me a dress for a BMI affair and she said “when they put you in the Hall of Fame, that’s the dress I want you to wear.” And I said “Oh Mama, the Hall of Fame? Why that will never be.” And the years went by, but my mother’s words remained in my memory. And I know tonight she’d be happy, though she’s gone now to her rest. But I think of all that she did for me, and tonight I’m wearing this dress.[10]

    Walker received a standing ovation as she departed the stage in tears after softly blowing a kiss.  Fellow Hall of Fame inductee Harlan Howard described her at the time as the “the greatest living songwriter of country music.”  

    In March, 2006 American music icon Willie Nelson released a CD album featuring thirteen of Walker’s well-known songs. The album title is You Don’t Know Me: The Songs of Cindy Walker.

    The accolades would continue.  In 1998, she was inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame and in 2001 Country Music Television honored her as one of the “40 Greatest Women in Country Music”, assigning her a #32 ranking.  In March of 2006, Willie Nelson released a CD album including thirteen of Walker’s best-known songs, entitled, “You Don’t Know Me:  The Songs of Cindy Walker.”  

    And for Cindy Walker’s music…

    Here she sings her cover version of “When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again”, from 1944…

    Walker wrote more than fifty songs that were recorded by Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, which follow…

    “Cherokee Maiden” in 1941…

    “Dusty Skies” was first recorded by Bob Wills & the Texas Playboys in 1941.  Here is a cover version by Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel, along with Riders in the Sky…

    Here is Bob Wills & the Texas Playboys again, performing “Miss Molly” in 1942…

    Walker co-wrote “Sugar Moon” with Bob Wills in 1947.  Here is a more recent version by k. d . lang and the reclines.  Be sure to lace up your dancing shoes…

    Bob Wills & Tommy Duncan collaborated in this version of Walker’s “Bubbles in My Beer” in 1948…

    Although embedding is not possible, here is Asleep at the Wheel’s lively remake of Walker’s “You’re from Texas”, first recorded by Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys.  You can hear it by clicking here.  

    Walker co-wrote “I Don’t Care” in 1955 with Webb Pierce.  Pierce’s recording spent twelve weeks at #1 on the Country & Western charts, where it remained for thirty-two weeks.  Ricky Skagg’s 1981 remake of the song became his second #1 hit, again on the Country charts…

    For those who are interested, there is much more information about Cindy Walker on the web.

  2. The curmudgeon spent much of his early life in a small, provincial Upper Midwest farming community.  We were excited when our town’s first radio station opened for business, especially after hearing a couple of Top Ten pop songs during the first two days of operation.  Many in the community complained bitterly, after which the station turned to a steady diet of country music and farm reports.  But enough of this writer’s early life traumas…

    Arnold’s prolific career spanned six decades, during which he placed a total of 147 of his songs on the Billboard country music charts, ranking him second only to George Jones. He became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1943 and was the youngest artist ever inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1966. During the following year, he became the first ever recipient of the Country Music Entertainer of the Year award. In 2003, Country Music Television ranked him at #22 on their list of “The 40 Greatest Men of Country Music.”  

    The popularity of rock and roll music in the 1950s affected Arnold’s record sales, however, like many who have achieved considerable success, he and singer Jim Reeves introduced pop-sounding string arrangements into their music, dubbed the “Nashville Sound”, appealing to a much wider audience.  Predictably, country music purists were outraged.  

    Pursuing an even more diverse audience in the 1960s, he would achieve perhaps his greatest success in 1965 with the crossover international hit, “Make the World Go Away”, which he recorded, backed by the Anita Kerr singers and pianist Floyd Cramer. Recording in collaboration with the Billy Walker Orchestra, he would enjoy sixteen consecutive hit songs during the late 1960s, performing with symphony orchestras in New York City, Las Vegas and Hollywood, as well as two concerts at Carnegie Hall and one at Coconut Grove in Las Vegas.  

    The accolades would continue still.  In 1984, the Academy of Country Music honored Arnold with its Pioneer Award.  As of 1992, he had sold more than 85 million records. His songs occupied the #1 slot on the charts for a grand total of 145 weeks, more than any other singer.  In the 1990s, he transitioned to a less hectic concert schedule, performing less frequently during his later years, finally announcing his retirement in 1999, a year when the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences also inducted the recording of “Make the World Go Away” into the Grammy Hall of Fame.  In 2000, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts and in 2005, received a lifetime achievement award from the Recording Academy.  

    Harking back to this writer’s early years in the wilderness, this writer immediately associated Eddy Arnold with his hit song “Cattle Call”, which peaked at #1 on the country charts, and even reached #69 on the pop charts.  Of course, the song was heard almost everywhere around my home town…

    Needless to say, this writer was quite surprised to learn that Arnold co-wrote this week’s selection.

    Venturing further back to the earlier years, Arnold’s crossover hit, “Bouquet of Roses” peaked at #13 on the pop charts in 1948…

    The flip side of “Bouquet of Roses” was “Texarkana Baby”, which peaked at #18 on the pop charts, also in 1948.  According to the Youtube poster, what is pictured is the world’s first 45 rpm record ever released in March, 1949.  Records were color coded for easy recognition, Green – Country & Western; Popular- Black; Classical – Red; Popular Classical – Midnight blue; Children’s – Yellow; Blues and Rhythm – Cerise and

    International – Sky blue.

    Arnold’s next Top 20 pop hit was “I’m Throwing Rice (At the Girl I Love)”, which peaked at #18 in 1948.  Here is a cover version of that song by Jerry Lee Lewis, from 1980…

    Arnold’s next and last Top 20 pop hit was “Make the World Go Away”, which rose to #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in 1965…

    “Old Porch Swing” was included in Arnold’s 100th and final album, “After All These Years”, released in 2005.  Here is the related music video…

    Eddy Arnold passed away on May 8, 2008; just seven days shy of his 90th birthday.  May he rest in Peace.

  3. Shel Silverstein received Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for the song, “I’m Checking Out”, performed by Streep toward the conclusion of the film.

    Here is her performance…

  4. I`ve had a heavy weekend with again another memorial to go to remembering the death of my friend, & the sad news that another little friend of mine I`ve known since birth took his life at 21 years of age.

    We always used our secret hand signal to recognize ourselves as “Space Brothers”, from since he could form our special sign.

    Every time I try to come back & post regularly, one of my friends leaves.

    I`m debating whether I should get in a cave & save some lives.

    I`m always amazed at the extent of your diaries & how much work they are generated from.

    I`ll be back tomorrow to go through your “covers”.

    Thank you.

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