Glen Campbell is one of the greatest loves on my musical life. He is in the final stages of Alzheimer's so I wanted to repost this tribute that I originally wrote 2 years ago to honor him, his musical legacy and the fans who share my passion
Glen has been gentle on my mind in recent years as I have followed his hard fought battle with that terrible disease which is also staking its claim on my Uncle. This song won multiple Grammy awards in 1967. It was written by John Hartford and he says he wrote it in 30 minutes after watching the Omar Sharif film Doctor Zhivago
Glen Campbell worked w Jimmy Webb (who was a staff writer at Motown records) a lot... their collaborations will forever be legend. Jimmy wrote By The Time I Get To Phoenix for another artist but it didnt work out in fact this song didn't work for anyone at the label so he left and they said "hey take this song with you" and so he did. It was first recorded by Johnny Rivers. Glen Campbell heard it and thought he could make it better. He practiced by playing the guitar on Pat Boone's version and then made it his own. It became his first hit.
After the success of By The Time I Get To Phoenix Jimmy wrote Wichita Lineman for Glen (check out this beautiful 2006 interview with Robert Wilonsky & The Dallas Observer) and was originally called Washita Lineman because he saw one when he was driving thru Washita, Oklahoma and was captivated by the rows and rows of telephone poles and this single solitary lineman on top of one. Jimmy put himself in that mans shoes and wrote the song from that perspective. The song is a metaphor for loneliness and of a love that was never meant to be. Glen frequently & graciously made it a point to mention Jimmy as the writer when he performed this song on television and in live performances
He once recorded a mesmerizing super chill inducing version of Wichita Lineman with Stone Temple Pilots at their studio.
"If there was an example of a man given too much talent in one body...it would be Glen" ~Merle Haggard
The story behind Galveston (another tremendous collaboration with Jimmy Webb) is that it was written as a song to protest Vietnam but Glen reportedly sang it w a more upbeat tempo to give it a more general message. The original version was sung by Don Ho who tweaked the lyrics to reflect his own surroundings.
8 years ago Glen did a really beautiful album, Meet Glen Campbell, where he did his own interpretations of some of his favorite songs indluding Times Like These by The Foo Fighters
He also did a stunning tributes to U2, Green Day, The Velvet Underground, The Replacements and one of my personal faves from that cover record was this version of Sing which was originally by Travis
Josh Homme from Queens Of The Stone Age plays a bartender, spookily reminiscent of the one in The Shining, in Glen's haunting video for A Better Place which features a breathtaking look at his magical musical legacy
Thank you Glen Campbell. You are a beautiful and awe inspiring talent and your music made this world a better place.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.