February 15

Behind Eddy Arnold’s “You Don’t Know Me” is a Woman

“You Don’t Know Me” is a song that Cindy Walker-penned. The title and story line originated from Eddy Arnold in the year 1955. Arnold himself made a cover of “You Don’t Know Me” in that same year. Soon after (April 21, 1956), RCA Victor released it as a single backed with “The Rockin’ Mockin’ Bird”. The song “The Rockin’ Mockin’ Bird” reached number 10 on the Billboard country chart.

The original version of “You Don’t Know Me” that made the Billboard charts in 1956 was Jerry Vale’s. It occupied spot number 14 on the pop chart. Arnold’s version charted two months after. In addition, Cash Box magazine included a version by Carmen McRae that never appeared on the Billboard Top 100 Sides listing.

The Origin of “You Don’t Know Me”

Before “You Don’t Know Me”, “Take Me in Your Arms and Hold Me” was the first Cindy Walker release song. At the same time, it was the first number one Eddy Arnold country record. In the book Eddy Arnold: Pioneer of the Nashville Sound, author Michael Streissguth described how the song “You Don’t Know Me” came to life.

Cindy Walker who had been working with Eddy recalled discussing the idea for “You Don’t Know Me”.  “You Don’t Know Me” came into conception as Cindy was leaving one of Nashville’s annual disc-jockey conventions. She shared that as she went up to the Victor suite to tell Steve Sholes goodbye, Eddy came in the door. Walker clearly remembered him saying that he got a song title for her and that was “You Don’t Know Me”. She teased back and said that she knew him. As a reply, Eddy said that the matter was serious and proceeded to outline his idea. The songwriter promised to let the idea bubble in her head for a while. Soon enough, she remembered, the lyrics tumbled onto the page. The song, she recalled, just started singing and it kind of wrote itself.

The best-selling version of the song is Ray Charles’. His cover reached number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1962. This happened after releasing the song on his #1 album Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music.


Cindy Walker, Eddy Arnold, Ray Charles, you don't know me

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