The Wichita Lineman

Who does the best cover?

Jimmy Webb was a great songwriter, but no one could ever do it better than Glenn Campbell. Though the James Taylor version is listenable.

What is really sad, is how unappreciated a guitar picker he was. Though you wouldn’t know it from the Wichita Lineman video.

And yes, the lyrics, can’t be beat: “And I need you more than want you…and I want you for all time…”

[Update a couple minutes later]

The genius of the Campbell arrangement was the morse code background in the chorus of the radio hit, though you won’t hear it in the linked video above. It’s sad and frightening how many memories listening to that song brings back. Reading the comments of people much younger at the video of the ’68 hit is even more poignant.

11 thoughts on “The Wichita Lineman”

  1. Jimmy Webb wrote some of the most beautiful songs ever, including that one. It’s a shame that some of them didn’t get as much play. “Crying in My Sleep,” “Shine it on Me,” “Watermark,” and so many more. He’s still around, and still writing.

  2. Please: Jimmy Webb *is* a great songwriter.

    And although he doesn’t have Glen Campbell’s pipes, his version of “Galveston” (slower than Campbell’s, and minus the orchestra) blows me away. Performances are pretty easy to find on YouTube.

  3. I love Glenn Campbell! That one most of all, though Galveston is a close second. I thought the REM version was impressively good, better than the rest. This led me to surf until I ended up at McArthur Park, which I didn’t realize was also Jimmy Webb.

  4. Back to the original topic, “Wichita Lineman” was one of the first songs I remember hearing on the radio when it was a hit. I was 10 years old in 1968.

  5. I remember Jim Webb, Glen Campbell and John Hartford playing and singing together on Campbell’s TV show. I’m not a huge Campbell fan, but I do know great musicians when I hear them.

    Good stuff all the way.

  6. Glen Campbell was a guest on Chris Isaak’s short-lived interview show; catch that episode if you can – very very good. “Wichita Lineman” is the highlight for me. Remember that Glen Campbell was a member of the famous Wrecking Crew session musician group, which speaks very well of his instrumental prowess.

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