Saturday, 24 May 2014

50 songs to take to my grave #10: Wichita Lineman

I'll keep this short. Some songs don't need a lot said about them, they just make the point so well on their own. Wichita Lineman is such a song. Described as the first existential country song, it was conceived during a car journey in Oklahoma by writer Jimmy Webb after spotting a telephone lineman up a pole in the middle of nowhere. Webb saw it as "the loneliest job in the world".

Recorded first by Glen Campbell, the plaintive lyrics combined with a beguiling arrangement and melody to form probably the best country song of all time, and arguably one of the greatest songs of any genre of all time. So many versions have been done of it since, but Campbell's remains the best by far.

I've been hearing this song for decades and, in spite of the sadness that permeates it, I always feel a sense of warmth when it plays.


Soundtrack:

4 comments:

  1. Beautiful song. Thanks for the alternative versions

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  2. Fantastic song - and yes Glen Campbell's version is the best. Although Johnny Cash did a very very good version too.

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  3. My pal briefly had a summer job fixing pylons for the Hydro Electric Board leading to him proudly singing "I am a lineman for the Hydro!"

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  4. My favorite Jimmy Webb song...but my favorite version is B.E.F featuring Glenn Gregory's electronic version from the first Music Of Quality And Distinction volume. It has a wonderfully eerie and hollow feel which combined with the magnificently spare synth scoring is ominously futuristic.

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