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Jimmy Webb Reminisces About Glen Campbell

by Paul Cashmere, Noise11

The name Jimmy Webb is carved alongside the career of country music legend Glen Campbell, who passed away today at age 81.

Webb would become Campbell’s greatest songwriting asset over his career, crafting classics ‘Galveston’, ‘By The Time I Get To Phoenix, ‘Where’s The Playground Susie’ and ‘Wichita Lineman’ for the legendary singer. However, the relationship got off to a shaky start.

Glenn had already recorded and had a hit with Jimmy’s song ‘By The Time I Get To Phoenix’ but the two didn’t meet until later when Glen was recording a car commercial and Jimmy had written the jingle.

Jimmy tells, “I walked into the studio that day. I was freshly returned from the Monterrey Pop Festival. I was wearing my red bandana and I had shoulder length hair, some raggedy old jeans and a yak vest. I walked in and I stuck out my hand and I said “hello Mr Campbell, I am Jimmy Webb” and he just looked over my shoulder. It may have been that my yak vest hadn’t exactly cured out right. He didn’t seem too interested in getting to know me. I said, “Mr Campbell, I wrote By The Time I Get To Phoenix. I am Jimmy Webb”. He locked eyes on me and said, “when are you going to get a haircut?” That’s how we met. It was a challenge from the get-go. He was more of a right kinda guy and I was kinda a lefty. Somehow or other it seemed like it was up to us to carve out some sort of clearing in the forest of politics where we could work together and that’s what we did.

“The first session Glenn and I ever did together was for General Motors. I had written a song loosely called ‘Song for the Open Road’ (aka ‘Let’s Get Going’). It was the first arrangement, the first time Glen and I had really worked together in the studio. It was the first time I had met him up close,” Jimmy said.

Jimmy recognizes the Webb- Campbell collaboration made both their careers. “I still think that his voice and my songs had a special affinity for each other,” Jimmy said.

Glen Campbell and Jimmy Webb became lifelong friends from that first day in the studio recording the Chevy commercial. The partnership continued right up to Campbell’s most recent album ‘Adios’, released just 10 weeks ago. Jimmy wrote the title track and recently ended his Australian shows with the song.