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September 6

How “You Don’t Know Me” Became a Success

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The Song “You Don’t Know Me” was written by Cindy Walker and Eddy Arnold. There are several versions of this song by artists like Jerry Vale, Eddy Arnold, Ray Charles and Mickey Gilley. In 1956 it reached #14 for the pop charts and #10 for the country charts. In 1962, #2 in pop and #1 adult contemporary charts. The best was Mickey Gilley’s reaching #1 in 1981.

Here is Jerry Vale’s version for you to enjoy:

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Behind the Song

Eddy Arnold was the brain behind the song, he mulled over the title and a storyline for a couple of years before taking them to Cindy Walker. She is a songwriter and had provided Eddy with a number hit five years earlier.

Walker committed to Eddy that she would come up with the idea. Within days, she completed the song and sent it to her publisher. Cindy’s tremendous catalog of classic hits made her a shoo-in for country music’s highest honor: her induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1997. Walker is one of only five non-performing songwriters so recognized.

Its Success

Over thirty years later, Charles’ version of “You Don’t Know Me” was featured prominently in the 1993 movie “Groundhog Day” starring Bill Murray. Ray re-recorded the song as a duet with jazz singer Diana Krall for his second and final #1 pop album, 2004’s “Genius Loves Company,” making “You Don’t Know Me” the only song common to both of Ray Charles’ two pop albums that made it to the top. He also logged a #1 country album, “Friendship,” in 1985.

“You Don’t Know Me” made one last appearance on a Billboard listing and once again landed at #1, this time making the summit of Billboard’s country singles chart dated September 19, 1981, with Mickey Gilley at the microphone. Nearly twenty years after the song’s chart-topping success with Ray Charles,

Gilley had always loved “You Don’t Know Me,” but was really intimidated about trying to cover a Ray Charles performance.  He was super-excited when his producer Jim Ed Norman brought the song in, but Mickey (a great admirer of Ray Charles) was kind of nervous about it, too.Jim Ed reassured Gilley by promising to “make a great record.”

Mickey became at ease and went to work on it, with the assurance from his producer. The two men put their best efforts into the finished product and it paid off when “You Don’t Know Me” became Gilley’s 12th number one country hit. Although he believed he did his best possible job, Mickey still felt that he hadn’t topped the Ray Charles version. In his mind, nobody could.

Check out Mickey’s version here:

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Well, regardless of who sings the song, I still think it’ a beautiful song. Each artist may interpret it differently but as long as the message is brought across, that’s what truly matters.


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jerry vale, you don't know me


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