She'll laugh when she reads the part
That says: "I'm leaving"
Cause I've left that girl
So many times before
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A saguaro at night
"By the Time I Get to Phoenix" became a hit in the 1960s following the recording made by Glen Campbell and is probably most famous for the number of cover versions recorded by so many artists. There are believed to be more than 1,000 covers of this song. The version by Isaac Hayes runs for almost 20 minutes, with an 8-minute spoken introduction.
Why that is so could be answered in the theme of the lyrics. It is a song about love - or rather about the failure of love - and the end of a relationship. So many popular songs are about love and about the heartache involved in lost love. The gimmick here, though, is that the singer has left a message that the relationship is over and then leaves without facing his girl. He then figures out when she will wake up and when she will discover the note and where he will be at those times.
As he arrives in a different place, he thinks aloud about her reaction. An added element of spice is the fact that the singer has left his girl before, and one is left wondering if he will return yet again or if this time will be the final farewell.
They say luck can mean being in the right place at the right time. Glenn Campbell got a gig filling in with The Beach Boys. Campbell performed this - Jimmy Webb's - song and the songwriter was so impressed he wrote Campbell another song called "Wichita Linesman," which also became a hit, reaching #3 on the charts.
"By The Time I Get to Phoenix" was good for both the songwriter and the singer. Webb was only 21 when he penned this song and his career took off, and Campbell's recording gave his fledgling career a huge boost.
The Phoenix Skyline
The city of Phoenix, Arizona, is in the title of the song, although there are several other places named in the lyrics. There are more than one and half million people in Phoenix, making it one of the largest cities in the United States. It's also one of the hottest where, for almost half the year, the average highest daily temperature tops the 100 degree mark.
With such a large population, the tourist has a wide range of activities from which to choose. The arts, with orchestras, ballet and opera, are regularly on offer. There are a number of professional sporting teams in baseball and football, with plenty of winter sports action, plus golf and car racing.
But it is the surrounding landscape and the setting of Phoenix which gives the city its charm and character. Much of the original desert landscape in Arizona has been taken over by land development, but Phoenix has many parks and other sites, such as the Phoenix Zoo, where the original terrain and plant and animal life has been preserved. All of these areas are within the city itself.
And the Phoenix Zoo has been voted one of the top 5 sites, especially for young visitors, so parents and grandparents are encouraged to take their offspring to this highly-rated venue.
The countryside surrounding Phoenix is renowned for its rugged beauty and hiking trails. There is a wide variety of hikes, ranging from those for the experienced and hardy hiker to simple trips for families and even for those with a disability. The trails are open all year round.
By the Time I Get to Phoenix Songfacts
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