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173: Wichita Lineman

Episode 173 cover image

By 1968, Glen Campbell had moved from session musician to a star in his own right. His single “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” written by Jimmy Webb, was a huge hit for him. So when Campbell decided he needed another song, he turned back to Webb and asked him for another song.

For whatever reason, he asked Webb to make it a song about a specific location. Webb, at that time, was in the business of writing as many songs as possible about his ex, a woman named Susan Horton. (Coincidentally, Jim Holvay was also spending a lot of time writing songs about a woman named Susan, go figure.) Susan Horton was at the heart of “Phoenix” and “MacArthur Park, which had just been released when Campbell came calling again. So he cranked out yet another song ostensibly about Susan. That song was “Wichita Lineman.”

Now, Webb wasn’t as obvious about Susan as Holvay was, but in all of these songs you can hear some sense of loss and longing, so it’s pretty clear that he had it bad for her. And between Webb’s nearly-finished work and the production values that Campbell and producer/arranger Al De Lory, before long they had a genuine masterpiece on their hands. And honest to god, why haven’t I covered this song back when the show was still in single digits?

What else haven’t I covered that really needs some attention? Drop me an emailĀ  at howgoodpodcast@gmail.com!

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