And I want you for all time
Glen Campbell started his career as a member of The Wrecking Crew; the brilliant, famously anonymous backing band that played on many of the greatest hits Stateside in the 60s, including The Monkees, Beach Boys, The Righteous Brothers etc.
After touring as a member of The Beach Boys (playing bass when Brian went awol) Campbell committed to a solo career. His musical versatility and sweet voice eventually earned him an American TV series even before the huge hits kicked in. He was regarded as bit of a Golden Boy; he ticked all of the boxes; he was wholesome, handsome and... he was a Republican. Bingo! Grannies and virgins swooned. With the weight of Ronald Reagan and John Wayne behind him he was glory bound. Although he had early success in 1967 with John Hartford's 'Gentle on My Mind' he still took a while to find his true voice, eventually hitting gold dust with a partnership with then budding genius (21) Jimmy Webb. Their first big hit was 'By the Time I Get to Pheonix' which won them a Grammy. Campbell demanded that Webb write him more "of them songs about places" and he dutifully obliged with two corkers; 'Witchita Lineman' and 'Galveston'. 'Where's the Playground, Susie' followed soon after.
'Reunion' was released in 1974 and was later remastered with the addition of 'Wichita Lineman' and 'Pheonix', which is the stellar version that I've got.
Campbell is so easy going that it's easy to overlook his power as a singer. Ask me in a lazy moment what my least favourite (s)hit records are and I'd juggle 'Rhinestone Cowboy' with 'Lady in Red'. I listened to the former recently (his biggest hit) and was gobsmacked; it is one of THE great pop vocals; check out his voice in the verses...
He had me with those early hits, particularly 'Wichita Lineman' which may well be one of my favourite ever sounding songs; from Carol Kaye's flat wound string bass intro through to the morse code strings that haunt the fade; this is an iconic recording. It contains one of the great lyrics too in "and I need you more than want you, and I want you for all time'... I think that encapsulates his early appeal; he was a wholesome, hopeful outsider with a dream; wide eyes on the horizon but forever homeward bound. Whenever I see Jon Voigt in 'Midnight Cowboy' it always reminds me of early Glen Campbell. That and the theme tune which could easily be mistaken for one of his own. Having cringed at GC's wretched writhings in 'True Grit' I know who I'd rather see singing...
He later fell into cocaine and alcohol addiction before marrying Kim Woolen who reintroduced him to God and sobriety. Recently diagnosed with Altzheimer's Disease, he made an excellent farewell album 'Ghost on the Canvas' and toured it in an emotional farewell.
He's best remembered with those early Webb hits though.
Brilliant songs, brilliantly recorded with a brilliant backing band the, erm, brilliant, Wrecking Crew.