Every No. 1 Country Single of the Eighties: Mickey Gilley, “You Don’t Know Me”

“You Don’t Know Me”

Mickey Gilley

Written by Eddy Arnold and Cindy Walker

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

September 4, 1981


#1 (1 week)

September 19, 1981

Mickey Gilley was basically country music’s very own lounge singer at this point of the decade.

Showing exquisite taste in material, Gilley once again brought a fantastic classic song back on the charts, recorded in the same countrypolitan style as his earlier hits.

“You Don’t Know Me” rivals “Stand By Me” as the best song Gilley revived, and like “Stand By Me,” the drawback of covering “You Don’t Know Me” is that so many other artists had done so already. Aside from the Arnold original, the song had been immortalized by Ray Charles, perhaps being the best of his many country music efforts.

Gilley’s version doesn’t reach those dizzying heights, but it’s worth noting that he managed to deliver the song better than all-time greats like Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, and Bette Midler.

His version succeeds because he doesn’t get in the way of the song.  It doesn’t work if you do a dramatic vocal performance.  The song is about emotions being withheld. 

There’s a wistful resignation in Gilley’s performance that highlights the lyric’s sadness without wallowing in it.  It’s one of his finest moments on record.

“You Don’t Know Me” gets an A.

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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  1. Love this version of the song and agree with the rating. However, my favorite version and go to is the Emmylou cover from Cowgirls Prayer. Such a classic and timeless song!

  2. Recall that Gilley strung four consecutive number one hits together in 1974 and 1975. Before he is done in the early eighties he will top that with a a second, more impressive run of six consecutive number one hits.

    His next chart topper is my all time favourite Gilley song.

    What a joy and pleasure rediscovering these classy performances.

    As for the best version of this single, I am traditionalist enough to think Eddie Arnold’s original recording is still the one to beat.

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