His songs embodied a subtle elegance and sophistication that transcended country music. His easy phrasing turned songs like “Make the World Go Away”, “Welcome to my world”, and “You Don’t Know Me” into “pop” standards, prompting other great, distinctive singers like Ray Charles, Dean Martin, Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra to record them themselves. As a songwriter, that achievement alone is worthy of a bust in the Hall of Fame. His accomplishments are staggering and well documented. But what’s most impressive is how he did it. In a world where apparently anybody can be famous for no good reason, Mr. Arnold was famous for the right ones.
Early on in my career, I had the pleasure (or audacity really) of singing “Make the World Go Away” for a television show taped at the Ryman. Several months after that, I had the good fortune of meeting Mr. Arnold. He leaned into me to tell me how much he enjoyed my version of his song. I bragged about that for months. Apparently I haven’t stopped.