Menu
Menu

‘I Was A Stoner & He Was the Cowboy’ – Songwriter Jimmy Webb Remembers Glen Campbell

Glen Campbell was every aspiring lyricist’s dream – and Jimmy Webb remembers how their work together was the truest of collaborations – as they became friends for life.

1968 started a five-week run at No.1 on the US album chart with ‘Wichita Lineman.’ American Songwriter Jimmy Webb’s inspiration for the lyrics came while driving through Washita County in northern Oklahoma. Webb was driving through an endless litany of telephone poles, each looking exactly the same as the last. Then, in the distance, he noticed the silhouette of a solitary lineman atop a pole. Webb then “put himself atop that pole and put that phone in his hand” as he considered what the lineman was saying into the receiver.

Correspondent Bill Nutt spoke with Jimmy Webb as he payed homage to his amazing journey with Glen Campbell.

Jimmy Webb remembers the first time he met Glen Campbell. It was not an auspicious moment.

In 1967, Webb was in the early years of his career as songwriter. He had been a fan of Campbell, and he further appreciated the fact that Campbell’s version of his song “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” was a hit on the country charts.

So Webb went to a recording studio to meet Campbell.

“I had long hair, and I wore a vest and a pair of jeans I never took off. I was in my hippie stage,” Webb says.

Campbell was fiddling with a guitar and amp, apparently paying no attention whatsoever to his visitor. “Finally, I said, ‘Mr. Campbell, I’m Jimmy Webb.’ He looked up at me and said, ‘When are you gonna get a haircut?’ ”

Now Webb laughs at the meeting. “He was a straight shooter, clean-cut,” he says. “I was a stoner. I was the mad professor, and he was the cowboy.”

From that unlikely mixture, however, came a fruitful collaboration and a deep friendship. Campbell ended up recording over 100 Webb compositions, including acclaimed versions of “Wichita Lineman” and “Galveston.” The rapport that blossomed between the two men arose from similarities that overcame any differences, according to Webb. He points out that he was born in Oklahoma, while Campbell was a native of Arkansas.

“We came from dead identical backgrounds, very poor in adjoining states, and from a fecund mix of church music, country, and a lot of family singing. We brought that common origin story. I’ve been accused of writing melodies that are rangy. My songs modulate; they start in one key and end in another. Glen had the ability to sing what I wrote, and not everybody can. It’s past time to go back and look at Glen’s contribution’s to music, which have been sadly overlooked. 50 years of friendship and partnership. There was a lot of love on both sides that resulted in unsurpassable pop music. Glen and I touched the sky a couple of times.”

Continue reading ...

Wish That You Were Here – Behind the Song with Florence Welch

“The idea of time and longing and loss and sacrifice, which are all themes I use a lot in my work… The heart of it is about love and about missing people… What do you do for love? What do you let go of? What do you leave behind? Is it safer to just be on your own?”

In ‘Wish That You Were Here’, Florence Welch finds that, counter to her expectation, she yearns for companionship. This reflects the themes of family in the film, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, where you will hear this song feature over the final credits.

Florence collaborated with the film’s director, Tim Burton, in the making of this track of which she offered some insight into the lyrics:

“Having been on tour, I’ve lived in a sort of magical time bubble, where the days almost blend together. It’s amazing, but it comes at a cost — a cost of leaving the people you love behind for a year or two. You kind of feel like if you could sing a song into the wind, maybe the wind could take it to them in a way that you can’t with a text or a call. You just want to send your love in a different way, in a way to somehow reach the unreachable.”

“I’ve always been a huge fan of Tim Burton’s. We have a very similar sensibility. He feels like a ‘kindred spirit’ and I knew that we would get along really well. It’s the kind of dark, dark romance of his work—so beautiful and whimsical, but with an element of darkness to it. That’s something that I always try and achieve in my work, too. I feel like we’re coming from a similar place of quite frantic imaginations trying to get the words out before the pictures in our heads disappear.
I actually sent him a note about six years ago. I was in Australia on tour there for the first time and visited an exhibition of all his work. I wanted to leave him a message and all I had on me was an x-ray of my hand, as I had just broken my finger. So I wrote on the x-ray and gave it to the gallery to pass on and never knew if he got it. When we met for the first time, he told me it’s been hanging up in his office ever since.”

Continue reading ...