There are some combinations in this world that just work. It’s like when you put the two things together, they create a whole new kind of magic. For example, pairings like Jack and Coke, peanut butter and jelly, and ham and cheese are classics. The ingredients are good on their own. However, the combination is somehow more than the sum of its parts. This is true, too, for the combination of Glen Campbell and Jimmy Webb.
Both Glen Campbell and Jimmy Webb are top-notch at their craft. Campbell passed away in 2017, but it’s still not easy to find someone with the singing and musical ability that he had. At the same time, Webb has proven himself to be one of the best-selling songwriters in the game. However, when you put them together, they make classics. For instance, Webb wrote “Galveston,” “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” and “Wichita Lineman,” all of which were hits for Campbell.
Glen Campbell recorded “Wichita Lineman,” 53 years ago today. Let’s look back at the impact of the song and how it came to be.
Looking Back At Glen Campbell’s “Wichita Lineman”
Glen Campbell loved this song from the moment he heard it, according to Songfacts. When Campbell initially heard the song, it wasn’t quite finished. However, that didn’t stop him. He knew that between him and a handful of members of the Wrecking Crew, they could cut the song. By this time, Campbell knew a hit when he heard one. He knew “Wichita Lineman,” was going to be huge. He was correct.
Glen Campbell recorded “Wichita Lineman,” on this day in 1968. It first hit the airwaves in October of the same year. Audiences ate it up. “Wichita Lineman,” peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100. However, it stayed in the Hot 100 for over three months. It topped the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and stayed at the top position for two weeks. At the same time, it went to number one on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. No matter what station you turned to, “Wichita Lineman” was there. The song was certified gold by the RIAA in January of 1969.
In an interview, Jimmy Webb talked a little bit about how “Wichita Lineman” came to be. It all started on the road. Webb was driving through the panhandle of Oklahoma, near the Kansas border. The land there is flat. So, you can see for miles. Webb said that as he drove, he noticed a lineman high up on a roadside telephone pole. He had a phone in his hand. This made Webb think about what it would be like to have that job. Furthermore, he wondered what kind of conversation the lineman was having up there.
Jimmy Webb took that mental snapshot and fleshed it out into a song that Glen Campbell turned into a crossover classic.