The guitar owned by legendary songwriter Cindy Walker has returned to Texas thanks to a donation to the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame from Alabama artist and songwriter Jacky Jack White.
Cindy Walker bequeathed the guitar to White upon her death in 2006. She was a resident of Mexia whose work struck a musical chord with singers like Willie Nelson, Jim Reeves, Mickey Gilley, Bob Wills, Gene Autry, Ernest Tubb, Red Foley, Eddy Arnold, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Jerry Vale, Pat Boone, Roy Orbison and more, according to the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame.
TCMHOF President Tommie Ritter Smith received the guitar on loan from White last week. Smith said the guitar would be placed in a display honoring Walker.
“Cindy was so dear to me,” Smith said. “There was no better, kinder person.”
White said the 1946 Martin Model 0017 guitar was the one Walker used to write many songs made famous by a variety of entertainment talents. He first saw the instrument hanging on the wall of Walker’s Mexia home when he visited it more than 25 years ago with his daughter, Kate, who was then around 9 years old.
“When I didn’t think Cindy was listening, my daughter looked up at the guitar on the wall and said, ‘Dad, someone should save that guitar. ‘” White said. It was aging and had cracks in the lacquer finish, he said.
When Walker died in 2006, the guitar was given to White. Walker was inducted into the inaugural class of honorees of the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in 1998 along with Tex Ritter, Willie Nelson, Jim Reeves, Gene Autry and Joe Allison.
During her Hall of Fame induction, it was noted that master songwriter Harlan Howard described Cindy Walker as “country music’s greatest living songwriter.” It was not idle flattery. Walker has, for more than 50 years, been a songwriter whose songs aren’t just about country artists wanting to record, her introduction to the induction reads.
In 1941 Walker moved to California with her parents and set out to make a name for herself.
His songs have been recorded by Bing Crosby, Bob Wills and others. In all, she wrote some 50 songs for Wills, often with Wills himself, including 39 songs for his movies.
Wills songs by Walker included “Can It Be Wrong”, “Sugar Moon”, “Bubbles in My Beer”, “New Playboy Rag”, “Warm Red Wine”, “It’s the Bottle Talkin'”, “Born to Love You”. and “It’s a good world”.
During the 1950s, Walker continued on the same feverish level with one of his classic songs, “Take Me in Your Arms and Love Me”, which became a #1 country hit for Eddy Arnold. The song would later be recorded by numerous artists, including Les Paul and Mary Ford, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and Jim Reeves.
White said it was fitting that the musical instrument she used to create many of these tunes is on display at the Carthage Museum.