Cindy Walker

Induction Year: 1970

Birth Name: Cindy Walker

Birth Date: 07-20-1918

Place of Birth: Mart, Texas

Death Date: 03-23-2006

Place of Death: Mexia, Texas

A charter member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, Cindy Walker wrote a diverse array of standards, including #1 hits for Bob Wills, Merle Haggard, Eddy Arnold and Ricky Skaggs. Walker scored hit songs across five decades. Her best-known works include Wills' Western swinging "Cherokee Maiden," Roy Orbison's shimmering "Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream)" and the ballad standard "You Don't Know Me." That last song alone has been recorded by Ray Charles, Eddy Arnold, Elvis Presley, Van Morrison, Bette Midler, Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, the Band, Allen Toussaint and dozens of others.

Raised in a musical family (her grandfather was a hymn writer, while her mother was a pianist who would become Walker's accompanist), Walker began singing and dancing on Texas stages at age seven. In 1940, while traveling in Los Angeles with her parents, Walker demanded that her father stop the car on Sunset Boulevard and let her out near Bing Crosby's office building so she could pitch a song to Crosby, unsolicited. At the office, she found Crosby's brother, Larry Crosby, who agreed to listen to her song, "Lone Star Trail." The next day, she sang "Lone Star Trail" for Bing Crosby himself, who soon turned it into Walker's first chart hit.

Walker remained in Los Angeles for more than a decade, recording as a solo artist on Decca Records (scoring a Top 10 country hit with "When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again," a song she didn't write). She became a go-to writer for Western movie soundtracks and, commencing in 1941, for "King of Western Swing" Bob Wills, who recorded more than 50 of her songs. She returned to her Mexia, Texas home in 1954, but continued as a prolific writer of popular songs. In 1955, Eddy Arnold came to Walker with the song title "You Don't Know Me," and she turned his idea into a devastating ballad of unrequited love.

Though Walker prided herself on tailoring songs for individual singers, her songs were adaptable enough to suit singers across decades. "Cherokee Maiden," "I Don't Care," "Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream)" and "You Don't Know Me" have all been re-recorded as hits, more than 20 years after their first hit versions. Elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1997, she is regarded by many as one of country music's greatest songwriters.

"(Jim) I Wore a Tie Today"

Eddy Arnold1961 #27 country
The Highwaymen1985 

"Anna Marie"

Jim Reeves1958 #3 country, #93 pop

"Answer the Phone"

Ernest Tubb1955 

"Blue Canadian Rockies"

Gene Autry1950 
The Byrds1968 

"Bubbles in My Beer"

(written with Tommy Duncan, Bob Wills)

Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys1947 #4 country
Ray Pennington1971 #68 country
Willie Nelson2006 

"Cherokee Maiden"

Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys1941 
Merle Haggard1976 #1 country
Asleep at the Wheel1999 

"Distant Drums"

Roy Orbison1963 
Jim Reeves1966 #1 country, #45 pop

"Don't Be Ashamed of Your Age"

(written with Bob Wills)

Ernest Tubb & Red Foley1950 #7 country
Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys1950 
Willie Nelson2006 
Jerry Lee Lewis & George Jones2006 

"Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream)"

Roy Orbison1962 #4 pop
The Marvelettes1962 
Del Shannon1963 
Jerry Lee Lewis1967 
Glen Campbell1971 #7 country, #31 pop
Lacy J. Dalton1983 #9 country
Hootie & the Blowfish2000 

"Heaven Says Hello"

Sonny James1968 #1 country

"I Don't Care"

(written with Webb Pierce)

Webb Pierce1955 #1 country
Ricky Skaggs1982 #1 country

"In the Misty Moonlight"

Jim Reeves1960 
Jerry Wallace1964 #96 pop
Dean Martin1967 #1 adult contemporary, #46 pop
George Morgan1975 #65 country


Stonewall Jackson1962 #9 country
Johnny Russell1978 #64 country
Sawyer Brown1985 #16 country

"Lone Star Trail"

Bing Crosby1941 #23 pop

"Miss Molly"

Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys1942 
Willie Nelson2006 

"Sugar Moon"

(written with Bob Wills)

Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys1947 #1 country
k. d. lang1988 
Willie Nelson2006 

"Take Me in Your Arms and Hold Me"

Eddy Arnold1949 #1 country
Les Paul & Mary Ford1952 
Jim Reeves & Deborah Allen1980 #10 country

"The Gold Rush Is Over"

Hank Snow1952 #2 country

"Triflin' Gal"

Al Dexter1945 #2 country
Walter Shrum & His Colorado Hillbillies1945 #3 country

"Two Glasses Joe"

Ernest Tubb1954 #11 country

"Warm Red Wine"

Ernest Tubb1949 #8 country
Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys1949 
Hank Thompson1958 

"You Are My Treasure"

Jack Greene1968 #1 country

"You Don't Know Me"

(written with Eddy Arnold)

Jerry Vale1956 #14 pop
Eddy Arnold1956 #10 country
Ray Charles1962 #2 pop, #5 R&B, #1 adult contemporary
Manfred Mann1965 
Wayne Fontana & the Mindbenders1965 
Elvis Presley1968 #44 pop
Ray Pennington1970 #61 country
Joe Simon1972 
Bette Midler1977 
Mickey Gilley1981 #1 pop
Charlie Rich1992 
Emmylou Harris1993 
Anne Murray2002 
Harry Connick Jr.2004 
Willie Nelson2006 
Michael McDonald2008 

Cindy Walker

Induction Year: 1970