March 26, 2006
Songwriting World Mourns Loss of Cindy Walker"(Best tunes) are songs with a face. You recognize them. You know them. It's like a person. They have a face that's outstanding. Other songs don't have a face; you just hear them, that's all. The really good ones are few and far between."
Rarely has the country music community witnessed the timeless versatility that songwriter Cindy Walker perfected.
"Cindy Walker was a cherished member of BMI for over 50 years," said BMI President and CEO Del Bryant. "Her voice spoke to and for many, and even if she had only written her classic 'You Don't Know Me,' she still would be considered one of the most respected songwriters of our time. Thankfully, she gave us much more."
The legendary Country Music Hall of Fame inductee died March 23 at the age of 87. Her niece, Carol Adams, said she had been ill for several months.
Songwriting luminary Harlan Howard called Walker "the greatest living songwriter of country music" - a title void of any exaggeration in spite of its lofty verbiage. The list of artists who have recorded Walker's work reads like a "who's who" of American giants: from frequent collaborator Bob Wills to Roy Rogers, Webb Pierce, Eddy Arnold and Elvis, Walker's co-writers and musical partners turned to her often for her signature hooks and poignant story-telling.
Walker's renowned pieces include "Cherokee Maiden," "You Don't Know Me," "Take Me in Your Arms (and Hold Me)," "In the Misty Moonlight," "Dream Baby," "Sugar Moon," "Distant Drums" and "I Don't Care." She wrote over 50 songs for Wills, the bandleader for the Texas Playboys, and garnered a new wave of media attention in recent weeks because of Willie Nelson's newest album, Songs of Cindy Walker. Many are calling the project Nelson's best work in decades.
Walker never stopped pitching her songs. "Songwriting is all I ever did, love," Ms. Walker confessed in a recent interview for The New York Times. "I still can't cook to this day!"
In recent years, she split her year in two, spending half her time in her home town of Mexia, Texas, and the other half in Nashville. Cindy Walker's creations were born and reborn, transcendent and oblivious to the chains of decades and passing fancies. She will be deeply missed.