Jimmy Webb

by Dan MacIntosh

Where do you begin with a songwriter like Jimmy Webb? Glen Campbell's smash hits "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," "Wichita Lineman" and "Galveston," were all written by Webb, who let us in on how he found a way to inhabit the psyches of the blue collar characters in these classic songs. The Highwaymen (Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson) took their name and their signature song from Webb's "The Highwayman," and he was an integral part of The 5th Dimension, writing "Up, Up and Away" and "woodshedding" arrangements.

Then there's Richard Harris, the famous Irish actor best known to a younger generation as Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter movies. Harris had a hit song with Webb's "MacArthur Park," enchanting listeners with the story of a cake left out in the rain. Harris seemed an odd choice to record the song, but it made perfect sense to Webb.

Jimmy is still at it, with the 2010 solo album Just Across The River and the 2011 release Cottonwood Farm, which features Webb performing with his equally musical sons.
Dan MacIntosh (Songfacts): How are you doing?

Jimmy Webb: I'm fine.

Songfacts: I was concerned, because when I was exchanging emails with (publicist) Cary, he said that you weren't feeling well.

Jimmy: Yeah, I caught something. I usually catch something when I'm out on the road, but this time I got - I don't want to go there.

Songfacts: That's all right. I'm glad to hear your voice. It's good to talk to you. I wanted to talk first about the new album, which is a family affair, I guess?

Jimmy: It's all my sons. Chris, James, Justin, Corny's playing bass, Cal Campbell (son of Glen Campbell), who's practically family, is on drums .

Songfacts: Here's a question I don't often get to ask people, but because you have such talented sons, is the songwriting skill hereditary?

Jimmy: I don't know about songwriting skill. They seem to all be able to write to some degree or another. They're all musicians, that's for sure. They were all drawn into that from a very early age. And you kind of look on from the sidelines with horror and go, "Oh, no, you can't be contemplating a career as a" - And then they say things like, "No, no, dad, I'm going to" - Like my son Charlie, he went to the University of California at Santa Barbara, he says, "I'm going to study film school." He went from film school to computer animation to business, and now he's a full time songwriter and musician.

And so they go through all these permutations as though they're trying to camouflage themselves, and somewhere deep down inside they all seem to be musicians and songwriters.

Songfacts: So I guess in a sense it is in the genes somehow?

Jimmy: Well, I don't know whether it goes that deep, to be scientific about it. It is something that they grew up with. I mean, it's something they were around all the time. And so that's the old argument between science and sociologists, is it the environment? Or is it really something genetic? It must be to some degree genetic. If you look at Glen Campbell's kids, every one of them is a fantastic musician and singer. I remember one night watching Ashley, Glen's daughter. Glen was playing something of mine, like "Highwayman" or something, and she was watching his hands and playing banjo and she said, "Dad, could you play that again?" And he played it again. And the second time she played it almost perfect. "Could you just play it one more time?" And he played it one more time, she played it with him. Beautiful 17-year-old girl, she looks like a movie star. But she was so quick she reminded me of him. That's the way Glen was when we grew up - he's only 10 years older than me. And when we worked together, he was extremely bright and quick at picking up chords and changes and things.

So yeah, I guess there's as good a genetic argument as there is an environmental argument.

Songfacts: You mentioned Glen Campbell, which leads me to another area that I wanted to talk about. You've had so many successes with Glen recording your songs. Have you been able to, with a little retrospect, see why you've had so much success together and why that worked so well?

Jimmy: Not really. I mean, there were obvious reasons, I think that Glen's voice is perfectly suited to early JW - "Wichita Lineman" and "By the Time I Get To Phoenix" - there was some kind of a surreal fit between his voice and those songs. And yet there were times that we went out and we tried to make that happen, like on the album Reunion, which a lot of people think is the best thing we ever did, but it didn't sell any. It sold, like, three copies. I think the re-release 15 years later sold more than the original release.

So there were times that we tried to deliberately create that success factor and we were unable to do that. There were times when we weren't particularly trying to do it, and we just did it. It's very hard for me to look back and say, "Oh, a-ha, now I see why we were successful." Because at the time it certainly wasn't anything that I was in control of.

Glen was very, very good at arranging things for Top 40 radio. He came over to my house one time and spent some time there, and I remember I was playing an Allen Toussaint record. I liked this record, it had a real lowdown kind of delta feeling, great piano, syncopated piano chops and interesting songs on it. I was playing along, and he said, "What was that song?" I said, "Southern Nights." And he said, "Is that your record?" And I said, "Yes." And he said, "Well, can I have it?" And I said, "You mean you want my record?" (laughing) And he said, "Yeah." So I said, Yeah, you could have it. And he was gone, man. He had my record and it was like one of those animated cartoons, the roadrunner - *pooow* He was gone. And he worked out that (singing) "do do do." That record, I mean, within 4 weeks that record was on the air. He worked at a frightening pace once he got going.

So he was very, very good at commercializing my songs. He could come up with great intros and great solos, great breaks, and he wrote perfect strings, because he wrote very little. It was a minimalist approach and it just left Glen out there with the song and the guitar. I tended to write a little bit more as an arranger, and probably too much. So I could have done better to have stayed out of Glen's way, I think.

On certain songs, the magic is undeniable: "Wichita Lineman" and "By the Time I Get to Phoenix." And it's almost as though the song was waiting for the singer and the singer was waiting for the song.

Songfacts: Did he ever return your record album or does he still have it?

Jimmy: No, he never did. (laughs)

Songfacts: Shame on him.

Jimmy: After all these years I don't care. I'm glad he had a hit record with it. He proved that he could pretty much call it. And for a while there, he could cut a hit record whenever he wanted to, and that's a pretty good trick.

Songfacts: One of the songs that you do on the new album, Highwayman, not only a song that Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings recorded, but it was also sort of the name of the supergroup. And I'm curious, did the song come first and then the group name?

Jimmy: Yeah, after they recorded it, it was very successful for them. It was a Number 1 country video. I won a Grammy that year for best country song. We were pretty much ignored by CMA, because they didn't know what to do with that. It was like Waylon said one time, "Which country?"

Songfacts: Exactly. That must have been gratifying, though, guys like that, to think so highly of your song.

Jimmy: Well, it was very, very nice. They did a beautiful Highwaymen album cover where they had portraits of all four of them and then they had a highwayman with a desert, Monument Valley look to it, which was very cool. And then they had it painted on the side of their bus, "The Highwaymen." And they traveled that way for a long time, until finally one of the guys died (Jennings). That was it, that was pretty much the end of the Highwaymen.

But they had ten years or so and it was a big turnaround for me in my career to have a hit record in the '80s and something that was big on the country charts and something that won another Grammy and everything. It was a big thing for me.

Songfacts: Do you remember when you wrote that song? Can you tell me a little bit about what inspired the writing of it?

Jimmy: I remember that I wrote it in England, I was staying over there and I had a piano in my suite. I had dreamed about this highwayman being chased by these horses, like this kind of classical English scene, like they're folk heroes. Dick Turpin - I don't know whether Dick Turpin was a real man like Jesse James or whether he was like Paul Bunyan. But he's like the highwayman. There's a couple of famous English poems about highwaymen. They were definitely folk heroes of the Jesse James variety. And I had dreamed about this and it was a very vivid dream, came on to me very strong. I woke up kind of sweating and thinking, God, that was so real that was almost like a past life or something. And I went almost directly to the piano and started writing.

I went from the highwaymen to the sailor to the dam builder. And a couple of hours went by and I was done, I was finished with it. I called George Martin, who was in America. It was very weird, because I was in England calling George Martin who was in America, saying, "Hey, George, I wonder if we could get this song on our album." Because we were right at the end of our album. And he really liked it and wanted to do it. So we got it on my album (El Mirage), and Glen heard it. And Glen did an album called The Highwayman and actually got in a huge row over it at Capitol. He left Capitol over that album.

Songfacts: Oh, really?

Jimmy: Well, the story that he tells is that they wanted him to cover "My Sharona" and that he wouldn't do it.

Songfacts: I can't imagine him doing that.

Jimmy: There are so many things in the world you can't imagine. (laughing)

Songfacts: (laughs) I guess so, I guess you're right.

Jimmy: Particularly in the record business. But anyway, he ended up cutting "Highwayman." And then when they were working on the very first Outlaw project, which they were all doing, Kris and Waylon and Willie were down there in Nashville working with Johnny Cash, because he wasn't feeling well, and he was obligated to do this album. And they said, 'Don't worry, we'll come down and we'll help you do it.' Which is a really nice thing for them to be doing. And I guess Glen stopped by to play some guitar, he was involved in it in some way that isn't 100% clear to me. But they told me that Glen played the song for them, and somehow or another they ended up recording it. It was a good thing for them, because there's four guys, there's four verses, each guy sort of plays a character, it's almost like a theatrical thing. It just worked out well for everybody.

Songfacts: That's a great story. I never realized that.

Jimmy: It's one of those times when the song and the singer collide at exactly the right moment, like Glen in "Wichita Lineman." There's a chain reaction and it just goes beyond anything that you ever imagined could happen.

Songfacts: The Wichita Lineman, it's interesting how when you write you can put yourself in the shoes of people that do work that definitely you don't do, right? I'm assuming you've never been a lineman for the county?

Jimmy: No, not particularly. I've never worked with high-tension wires or anything like that. My characters were all ordinary guys. They were all blue-collar guys who did ordinary jobs. As Billy Joel likes to say, which is pretty accurate, he said, "They're ordinary people thinking extraordinary thoughts." I always appreciated that comment, because I thought it was very close to what I was doing or what I was trying to do. And they came from ordinary towns. They came from places like Galveston and Wichita and places like that.

Whereas, no, I never worked for the phone company. But then, I'm not a journalist. I'm not Woody Guthrie. I'm a songwriter and I can write about anything I want to. I feel that you should know something about what you're doing and you should have an image, and I have a very specific image of a guy I saw working up on the wires out in the Oklahoma panhandle one time with a telephone in his hand talking to somebody. And this exquisite aesthetic balance of all these telephone poles just decreasing in size as they got further and further away from the viewer - that being me - and as I passed him, he began to diminish in size. The country is so flat, it was like this one quick snapshot of this guy rigged up on a pole with this telephone in his hand. And this song came about, really, from wondering what that was like, what it would be like to be working up on a telephone pole and what would you be talking about? Was he talking to his girlfriend? Probably just doing one of those checks where they called up and said, "Mile marker 46," you know. "Everything's working so far."

Songfacts: Exactly.

Jimmy: But he could have been talking to his girlfriend - I'm a romantic, so that's where I go.

Songfacts: Sure. Tell me about "By the Time I Get To Phoenix." Do you have a vivid memory of writing that song? And if so, what do you recall about that experience?

Jimmy: Not really. I remember that I was a contract writer at Motown Records.

Songfacts: Motown?

Jimmy: Yeah, that was my first job. I worked for Motown when I was about 17, 18 years old. I was a white face. There were a lot of black faces and mine was a white face. But they always treated me very kindly, treated me like family there and really taught me a lot. And they had another kid there who had been on The Donna Reed Show, his name was Paul Petersen, and he had a couple of records. They're almost novelty records. One of them was called "My Dad." Kind of a ballad called (singing), "My dad, now he is a man." And it was a hit. And then he had another one called "She Can't Find Her Keys." He went out on a date with this girl and I don't know, she can't find her keys.

And they came to me and said, "We need a song for Paul Petersen." And I wrote "By the Time I Get to Phoenix." And they didn't like it for him. They didn't like it for anybody. They ended up cutting it with a couple of different people and not really being happy with it. And when I left the company they gave me the song and said, "You can take this one with you." And I said, "Okay, I will. I like it." They liked verses and choruses there. Verses and big choruses. And "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" is three verses, very simple, very direct storyline.

The guy who hired me at Motown, Mark Gordon, who managed the Fifth Dimension, he was signing them over at Soul City, which was Johnny Rivers' company. I ended up going over there. They bought my contract out, I went over there. And I took "Up, Up and Away," "By the Time I Get To Phoenix," "Worst that Could Happen, and a handful of hit songs that were there with me.

So after all that, Johnny Rivers cut "By the Time I Get to Phoenix." Went in and did it with the Wrecking Crew and Marty Paich doing the strings. And then the story loops back to me from Glen Campbell. He was driving along the street one day, heard Johnny's record and thought, "I could cut that record and make a hit out of it."

Songfacts: And he was right again, wasn't he?

Jimmy: Yeah, I think they both cut them in the same room, in Western 3.

Songfacts: No kidding?

Jimmy: Yeah, I remember working in there with Lou Adler on the first one, but I don't remember working on Glen's records. I wasn't always around for Glen's records. So there are these long, torturous stories for most of these songs that have not had easy lives. (laughing)

Songfacts: Apparently, yeah. There's a version of the song "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" by a guy named Nick Cave. I don't know if you're familiar with him.

Jimmy: I know him very well, he's a good friend. It's a good record. He and I used to stay at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel together.

Songfacts: Is that right? I never would have guessed that. His version - and he would even probably admit that he's not a great natural singer, but his version of that song is so sad that it's hard to listen to sometimes. He just really captures that melancholy of the song.

Jimmy: Yeah, he did a nice job on it. He's a good artist, I like him.

Songfacts: Well, you earn cool points in my book for knowing Nick Cave.

Jimmy: I know everybody. (laughing)

Songfacts: I guess so. (laughs) Did you ever talk to Nick Cave about songwriting?

Jimmy: Maybe I did. I don't know. We used to commandeer a table down in the lobby in the Roosevelt Hotel and drink like fiends. I don't drink anymore. I haven't had an alcoholic beverage in years.

Songfacts: Good for you.

Jimmy: Back in the day, we would drink a little bit.

Songfacts: I can imagine.

Jimmy: I don't know that we really ever specifically talked about songwriting. Something you'd be surprised that songwriters don't always talk about.

Songfacts: Well, you probably don't want to give away your secrets.

Jimmy: I've given all mine away. I don't have any secrets. But maybe there are some guys out there that feel they have secrets.

Songfacts: Well, I wanted to talk about maybe a few more things, and then I'll let you go. "MacArthur Park," I was talking to a friend of mine, we were trying to figure out how you made the connection with Richard Harris to record that song. I mean, I can understand working with Glen Campbell, a great singer, great guitarist. But then taking an actor and having him record one of your songs, how did that come together?

Jimmy: Well, I met Richard on stage at the Coronet Theatre in Los Angeles. We were doing like an anti-war pageant with Walter Pidgeon, Edward G. Robinson, Mia Farrow and some other people, and I was doing music. In our off-time we used to like to play the piano backstage and sing and have a few beers, and Richard and I got to be really good friends. And we were just kind of tossing around that thing about, "Wow, one of these days we ought to make a record." And I used to say that to everybody, I'd say that to a cab driver.

So one day I got a telegram over at my house on Camino Palmero that said, "Dear Jimmy Webb, come London, make record. Love, Richard." And it was the first time I was ever out of the country. I got on a 707 and flew to London and started doing this record with Richard. "MacArthur Park" was kind of in the pile, but we had a lot of songs that we were interested in doing. And we ended up doing two albums. And a lot of people think the second album was better than the first. The second album was called The Yard Went on Forever.

The first one was called A Tramp Shining. And that takes us to the sort of hidden question in your question, which is why would you get an actor instead of a singer? Well, he was a singer. He had just done a very successful top-grossing motion picture, which was a musical version of Camelot. And he had sung all the Lerner & Loewe stuff. I mean, it wasn't perfect, but he had sung it. He had gotten through the score and it was considered successful. And I thought he had done a good enough job singing Lerner & Loewe that I thought I could make a record with him. I didn't think it was that weird - I still don't know why people are so taken aback by it. It's not like some strange thing. I had just done a musical. You know what I'm saying?

Songfacts: Right.

Jimmy: He knew every Irish song that he had ever heard, he could sing them all, he did sing them all. His favorite drinks were black velvets, champagne and Guinness. Get a couple of black velvets in him and he'd start singing Irish songs. And I still know probably about a thousand Irish songs that Richard taught me.

Songfacts: How cool is that?

Jimmy: And we ended up making a successful album - it's hard to find a more successful album than that album. The song itself, "MacArthur Park," was covered by probably 150 or 200 artists. Still being covered, including Maynard Ferguson, Stan Kenton, all the jazz artists wanted to cut it.

Songfacts: And that's got to be gratifying when jazz musicians love it on just a music level, right?

Jimmy: Yeah. So it was, I mean, now that Richard's gone, he's a little easier to appreciate. He brought a great kind of theatrical dignity to "MacArthur Park" and to those songs. And if he missed a note or he didn't carry it off particularly well as a singer, he had the actor's ability to step his way through the lyric and to speak some of the lines and basically to carry it off. He played Camelot on the road live. He had a bus and truck company then. And he eventually bought the rights to the Lerner & Loewe score, so he owned the publishing. And he played Camelot on the road for eight years. He told me one day at a bar that he made $65 million playing Camelot on the road.

Songfacts: Camelot was very good to him.

Jimmy: Yeah. (laughs) So it's a little insulting to say that he couldn't perform, or that he couldn't sing.

Songfacts: Now that you explain it that way, I see exactly what you mean. I wanted to wind things up here by talking about the Fifth Dimension and some of the songs that you wrote for them. I think "Up, Up and Away" was one of them. And there's quite a number. How do you recall that experience?

Jimmy: Well, it was the greatest experience of my life in a way, because it was the first time I had been really set free. I had been working in the studio with Johnny Rivers and Mark Gordon co-producing, and I was just kind of a gopher. I went around and did everything. I did rhythm parts for my songs. But I had a good friend in Marty Paich, and he was teaching me the basics - I guess you would say the fundamentals of orchestration. And finally when we got in to do Magic Garden with Bones Howe that was the first album that I was ever given complete freedom to do my own orchestration.

And it turned out great. And the next album was the Thelma Houston album, Sun Shower, which has some of the most fantastic orchestrations I've ever done. I don't know whether I've ever really gotten up to that level again. But, I mean, it was just something that I was doing. It was learning on the job, but at a fantastic rate. And I loved the kids, I loved Billy, Marilyn, Ron, Lamont, and Florence. And we'd all kind of started out together, we all had holes in our tennis shoes and we all had day jobs. And we made it happen together. They had a huge career. They went off and they did Laura Nyro and they did Andrew Lloyd Webber. They did everything. They had a huge career.

There was a lot of dissonance in that group, unfortunately. They could probably have done better as a group if they had gotten along a little bit better. And I won't say any more than that, because I don't want to malign anybody. But I still work with Billy and Marilyn. They're two of my favorite singers in the world, I love them to death. She had a huge Number 1 record, I mean, a platinum record called "One Less Bell to Answer" on a Hal David/Burt Bacharach song. She was the host on Solid Gold, you know.

Songfacts: I remember that.

Jimmy: They just had a huge career, and I was there. I think I was instrumental and I wrote their first big hit. And I was there for the first two albums. I was really integrated into the structure of the albums, whereas I didn't produce, I hadn't made it to producer yet, but I was doing all the music. I was learning a tremendous amount. I was doing all their vocal arrangements, too.

Songfacts: Oh, really? I didn't realize that.

Jimmy: Yeah. Eventually they got someone to come in and write everything down. In those days we just did it - the old expression is we woodshedded everything. We would just sing it over and over and over, and they would be like, "Okay, hey, why don't you guys try this?" And you'd just try things and try things and try things. And sometimes I think that's the way the best stuff was created. Particularly in the rock and roll world.

Songfacts: I can't argue with you on that. I think the evidence speaks for itself.

Jimmy: Everything didn't have to be written down. When you got to orchestra parts and stuff like that, you almost had to write them. I mean, Harry Nilsson used to experiment with having Van Dyke Parks hum the parts to the orchestra, which I never saw as being a very successful strategy.

Songfacts: Right. Sometimes you need to write it down. Especially with musicians who are used to reading music instead of improvising. That's what they go by.

Jimmy: Exactly. (laughing)

Songfacts: Well, Jimmy, it's been such a treat to be able to talk to you and hear these stories. I think we've only scratched the surface, and you're still making music.

Jimmy: I had a record on the charts last year, my album Just Across the River was - I forget, I think it was 60. It didn't do badly for an old geezer.

We spoke with Jimmy on May 16, 2011. Get more at Jimmywebb.com.
More Songwriter Interviews

Comments: 26

  • Gerard Oneill from Belfast. Ireland A real great read loved every bit of it just to short
  • Ali Marican from SingaporeThank you very much for this. Mr Webb is my favourite song writer and I just love Glen Campbell.
  • Robert Pappadake from Putnam County New YorkBack in the mid sixties I was all rock and roll-loud, speaker-shaking. Then MacArthur Park came out and I could not get it out of my head. The imagery, obscure or not, the feeling of loss really hit me. This song along with The Worst That Could Happen have to be the the most soul-wrenching I can think of. I love it and listen to it still. Naturally I can't imagine anyone other than Richard Harris behind the mike.
  • Claude Wooley from Southeast TexasGreat interview Dan, on one of my favorite songwriters of all time. Jimmy Webb fills a lot of my life’s soundtrack. Thank you...
  • Wr from Denveryou have impacted so many lives with your words and music.
    all i can say is, now that i'm 70, i know you and your music will never be lost.
  • Lionel from East SussexDick Turpin was a real figure, a highwayman, hanged for his trouble in York.
  • Len Bullard from Toney, AlabamaIf you want to learn the craft of songwriting, Jimmy Webb's "Tunesmith" is as good a book as there is on the subject.
  • Howard L. from Levittown, PaJerry Blavat did a show on Jimmy Webb a few weeks back. He played Sinatra's version of "'Phoenix" in a mash with Campbell's, his shtick. Too bad there wasn't time for Isaac Hayes' reading, but the Originals' version of "Witchita Lineman" was an unburied treasure, as was Sammy Davis Jr.'s "Do What You Got To Do." There was also a chunk of time given to Harris' "A Tramp Shining" LP(a year on the charts, Blavat pointed out). "McArthur Park" and "Wichita Lineman," among others, are examples of how a good song is malleable to many approaches.
  • Jim L. from Fort Myers, Fl.One of my favorite artists is Art Garfunkel, seen him in concert 3-4 times, & he always names his top 5 songwriters, Jimmy being one of them.
  • Diana Spurlock from Elk City, Ok 73644I live in elk city, ok and would like to touch base with Jimmy. I was born in Sayre in 1946 also. Jimmy could you call or contact me to let me know how to get a few songs heard? My cell is 5802439414. You know how to get started and if u would be ever so kind in sharing I would appreciate. I have the words and music on a guitar! In western oklahs solidarity, Diana Spurlock.
  • Fritz Souder from Rockville, Md.Jimmy Webb's songs and Glen Campbell were a magical combination. Those two really made my life as a young man enjoyable. I've written songs but haven't had any luck getting them placed it's all a matter of luck in finding the right avenue. Luckily Jimmy Webb for our sake found found his.
  • Stymied Observer from UsaMacArthur's Park is one of may all time favorite songs ever. The Richard Harris version is such a timeless classic. Yet, Donna's Summer's disco version was equally as amazing. Considering I never liked disco, that's saying a lot. Also loved, still love in fact, Glen Campbell's voice to Webb's awesome storytelling lyrics. Hadn't realized prior to this interview The 5th Dimension also sang Webb songs. Loved that group, still love them. As someone else commented prior, Galveston remains for me an especially powerful and beautiful song also. Great stuff, Mr. Webb, the muse must have kissed you often, and sweetly, to produce so much musical magic.
  • Harlen Minyard from Oklahoma Cityi remember you with pride from the Jackson middle school where you and I attended, and where you moved to another location about 1960-1961- i went on to capitol hill high school. seems like you cut an early demo with some of my school mates way back when. us oklahomans are proud to have had you with us , even so briefly. thanks!!!
  • Ann from Seattle, WaThank you for this great interview. I love Jimmy's book, and this interview makes me want to read it again. One of my favorite Jimmy Webb quotes about songwriters is: "We are the Swiss watchmakers of music and literature." His simple genius always makes listeners want more. My favorite: Galveston. I was lucky enough to walk into an elevator in London many decades ago, and the Fifth Dimension were all in the elevator, all dressed up in their concert clothes. I was speechless. And that's probably good, because it kept me from saying something stupid. But if I could have said something, I would have told them how much their music meant to the world. Thank you, Jimmy, for all your great hits. Keep 'em coming!
  • Dan from Norwalk, CaThank you for all your kind words. It was a true thrill to interview Jimmy.
  • Scotty Mattson from Cheyenne, WyomingThe previous comments practically say it all, but Marilyn McCoo had the purest voice I've ever heard, even more so than women like Karen Carpenter. It was so rich and pure...one God's greatest creations.
  • Chuck from St. LouisThanks for a great interview! It was great to hear how Jimmy has impacted so many artists in his life.I'm a "Boomer" that cut his "musical teeth" on 60's
    music, which included alot of Jimmy Webb tunes that I've always loved. I had
    heard MacArthur's Park recently on an oldies station, and wanted to find out the inspiration for the lyrics. This may sound strange, but I would love it if Josh Groban would consider recording "MacArthur's Park". I think he would sound great on it, and the "Boomers" would certainly buy it. Just a thought.
  • Joe from ChicagoThank you for the interview. Two things I would add. Number 1 would be all the times that Frank Sinatra sang Jimmy Webb songs. MacArthur Park, and Didn't We comes to mind. I guess the second fact I would add would be how cool is it that the most recorded song of all-time is Jimmy's Wichita Lineman? REM & James Taylor are 2 of the most recent.
  • Herb Smith from Nashville, TnGreat artist. As Chelsea indicated, he has a lot of other songs that are as soulful and beautiful as his hits.
  • Guy from Woodinville, WaSo great to read this. The perfect marriage of Jimmy's songwriting talent and Glen's delivery are part of the soundtrack of my adolescence. They were songs I could share in appreciation with my parents, along with the transcendent "Up Up and Away." The "cake melting in the rain" lyrics of McArthur Park always fascinated me. Sounds so psychedelic, but Jimmy never struck me as an LSD fan. I once/heard read that Jimmy practically wrote the song on a bet, saying "I can make a hit out of anything." Since it did not come up in the interview, I view that with skepticism now.
  • Robert Ashton from Coral Gables , FlGalveston is a fantastic song. The young man is in Vietnam, dreaming of his life there and his girlfriend. Glen Campbell sings, "As I watch the cannons flashing, I clean my gun, and dream of Galveston." I think its the only part of the entire song where he alludes to the war. It is subtle. He could be from anywhere, but Galveston sort of rhymes with gun, and the word Galveston has a majestic feel to it. Near the end, Campbell sings, emoting it perfecly, "I am so afraid of dying/ before I dry the tears she's crying .. before I watch the seabirds flying in the Sun ... in Galveston, in Galveston." Beathtakingly beautiful.
  • Jerry from CaliforniaI was in the U.S.Airforce in 1968 going through Basic Training when this song came out. It was at the height of the Vietnam war. I had just graduated from my speciality school and was waiting for my orders to report to my next duty station. During some down time I was sitting on my bunk and vividly remember someone playing a radio in the background, this song was playing at the time and every time I hear it now it takes me right back to that very scary point in my life.
  • Ross from California I was 12 years old when the Wichita Lineman single and album were released in late 1968. My parents bought a new Magnavox console stereo as a family Christmas present that year and the Wichita Lineman album was one of the first records I remember them playing. My parents have since passed away but I still have that original album. Jimmy Webb has written many great songs, but Wichita Lineman remains my favorite.
  • Chelsea from Atlanta GaGreat interview with a great artist. But no mention of one of my favorite Webb songs, "The Moon's a Harsh Mistress."
  • Jim from North Billerica, MaAlot of my cousins became lineman for various phone companies. When "wichita Lineman" came out, it really struck an chord with them
  • Ato Conrillas from PhilippinesGreat to know a great composer musician in Jimmy Webb who wrote hits unbelievably varied in nuanced musicality. MacArthur Park is a classic. Back in high school decades ago, when I heard MacArthur Park, I knew and felt it was a star of a song that you look up to in the heavens.
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