Jimmy Webb, who wrote Campbell's hits "By the Time I Get to Phoenix
" and "Wichita Lineman
," told us how Campbell literally took his record and went off to record this song. Said Webb: "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 four weeks that record was on the air. He worked at a frightening pace once he got going."
Webb adds that Campbell never did return the record, but he doesn't mind. Here's the full Jimmy Webb interview