Throughout his life, Willie Nelson has been a fan of fellow Texas native Cindy Walker, whose songs have been recorded by Bob Wills, Ernest Tubb, Wade Ray and Bing Crosby. Recently, he committed 13 of her songs to tape for “You Don’t Know Me: The Songs of Cindy Walker,” which will be released March 7 via Lost Highway.
“I loved her music,” Nelson says of Walker’s catalog of playful saloon songs and heartfelt ballads. “Even before we met I felt like I knew her from listening to Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys do her songs. Every night of the week as a teenager I was playing things like ‘Miss Molly’ and ‘I Was Just Walking out the Door’ somewhere.”
Nelson recorded the set in Nashville with producer Fred Foster (Dolly Parton, Roy Orbison) and a band assembled and led by veteran fiddler Johnny Gimble, who spend much of his career playing with Wills. “I knew that with him in charge of the session, the tempos would be right and the arrangements would be good,” Nelson says of Gimble.
Also joining the sessions were noted steel guitarist Buddy Emmons, as well as the vocal group the Jordanaires, who back Nelson on “Dusty Skies.”
In other news, Nelson contributes the forward to “Farm Aid: A Song for America,” a recently published chronicle of the two-decade old organization co-founded by Nelson with John Mellencamp and Neil Young to support family farmers.
At 72, the hardworking artist has no plans to slow down in 2006. A string of tour dates will open Jan. 29 in Stockton, Calif., and stretch into mid-May.
Here is the “You Don’t Know Me: The Songs of Cindy Walker” track list:
“Bubbles in My Beer”
“Not That I Care”
“Take Me in Your Arms”
“Don’t Be Ashamed of Your Age”
“I Don’t Care”
“The Warm Red Wine”
“It’s All Your Fault”
“Just Walkin’ Out the Door”