Three Chords And The Truth: Essential Country Music Songs: “Wichita Lineman”- Glen Campbell. Someday I will get around to making my official Hot 100 or maybe 500 or 1000 favorite songs ever- when I do make that list there is on question in my mind that “Wichita Lineman” by Glen Campbell will be in my Top 10 favorite songs ever. I have loved this song since I was a little kid hearing it on the car radio. There have been times I have listened to it over and over maybe ten times on my IPOD. Some songs run their course- you figure them out and move on- this song never gets old to my ears.
In the late 1960’s Glen Campbell had three hit singles on both the country and pop charts with songs written by the great Jimmy Webb that had titles mentioning cities . The first “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” wasn’t written with Campbell in mind- he wasn’t the first to record it but his version is fantastic- but I will go with Isaac Hayes’s version as the definitive version. Campbell’s version peaked at #26 on the pop charts- and #2 on the country chart. It won Campbell a Grammy for Pop Vocal Performance. Campbell then asked Webb to write him another ‘city song.” The second one was “Wichita Lineman” and in 1968 it went #1 country and #3 on the pop chart. Over the weekend I was at a Barnes and Nobles in the music book section and I saw one copy of a book called “The Wichita Lineman: Searching In The Sun For The World’s Greatest Unfinished Song” by Dylan Jones. I wasn’t aware this book was out but I picked it up- glanced at it and of course ended up buying it. Halfway through it- a great and quick read- under 300 pages.
“Wichita Lineman” is perfect- the lyrics, the music, and Campbell’s singing. British music journalist Stuart Maconie calls it “the greatest pop song ever composed.” He may be right. On the recording many of famous Wrecking Crew of Los Angeles musicians play on it- Campbell had once been one of them. This song has been covered by dozens of artists- from Johnny Cash to Guns N Roses. The third of the three Webb written ‘city’ hits for Campbell was 1969’s “Galveston.”