Glen Campbell ‘Wichita Lineman’: Achingly Beautiful

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“Wichita Lineman,” recorded by Glen Campbell and written by “Jim Webb,” was released in October 1968

One of the great songwriter/singer collaborations is that of Jimmy Webb and Glen Campbell. Webb, who turned 74 on August 5, 2019, is one of the most successful and honored songwriters of our time and his rise paralleled the growth of the pop era of the ’60s. A partial list of tunes he penned includes “Up, Up and Away” (the Fifth Dimension), “The Worst That Could Happen” (The Brooklyn Bridge), “MacArthur Park” (Richard Harris, Donna Summer) and a trio of hit singles for Campbell: “Galveston,” “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” and “Wichita Lineman.”

Campbell, who died at 81 on August 8, 2017, established himself as a session player for the Los Angeles-based studio musicians known as the Wrecking Crew. He then forged a singing and recording career from the late 1960s into the ’70s with mass-market multi-genre pop appeal through a string of Top 10 and #1 songs, and found success on television and acting in movies.

Glen Campbell with drummer Hal Blaine at a Wrecking Crew session (Photo: Denny Tedesco archives; used with permission)

Related: 13 times when Glen Campbell rocked

Webb has said that the first single he ever bought was Campbell’s 1961 single “Turn Around, Look At Me,” which was a modest hit. Six years later, the collaboration took hold with “By The Time I Get To Phoenix.” Though the song peaked at only #26 on the pop chart, it reached #2 on country radio. One year later, the collaboration reached its apex with “Wichita Lineman,” which became the singer’s second of five career #1 country hits and a #3 pop smash.

Related: Our interview with Jimmy Webb, who says he wrote “Wichita Lineman” specifically for Campbell

The musicians on the song, including the beautiful string arrangement? None other than the Wrecking Crew! And although the song has been covered dozens of times by the likes of Johnny Cash, James Taylor, Robert Goulet and Kool & the Gang, it’s Campbell’s achingly beautiful version about the loneliness of the county utility worker that remains the signature version.

Our Classic Video…

Campbell’s Wichita Lineman album first hit #1 on the Billboard chart on November 30, 1968.

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And one more clip from when Campbell and Webb visited The View for an interview and performance of “Lineman.”

Related: “Wichita Lineman” was the subject of a 2019 book

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