Thursday, July 11, 2013

Wichita Lineman

Vanderleun recently put this up over at American Digest (which I may put in my sidebar), along with commentary.

I was not a Glen Campbell fan in 1968 - I was too cool for country and that fresh-faced look, y'see - but the songs he put out then have stuck with me better than most others.* Many of them were by Jimmy Webb, as this one is, and those have had legs.

Vanderleun's take highlighted for me how the arrangement supports the lyrics: the bass solo is exaggeratedly electric and machine-like; the violins are super-high on treble to capture the whine referred to in the first chorus. The tune itself goes into the high ranges at that point for the same reason.

*Okay, not "Where's The Playground, Susie," or "Dreams of the Everyday Housewife." Those really were execrable.


james said...

Yes, its a great song of lonely hope and dedication--and I'm trying to think of similar songs or poems that aren't about soldiers or sailors. Granted that most ordinary workers didn't have to travel far in olden days and so separations would be fairly short, but this take on the theme of separation seems very American.

Of his other favorites: over the years I've come to regard "Gentle on My Mind" as diabolical.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Only because you're quick enough to bother with the words. Most listeners just hear "It's not...(guitar, patter, guitar, patter)...your couch...(guitar, patter, guitar, patter)...back roads...GENTLE ON MY MIND."

People play "Every Breath You Take" at wedding receptions as if it's romantic, after all.

james said...

Ack. I must not go to enough weddings; I've not heard that one played. Fortunately.

jlbussey said...

I always used to love "Gentle on My Mind" but I heard it again recently and I was horrified by it. But then, I loved and never understood "Galveston" either, and now it just makes me want to cry. On the other hand, "Every Breath You take" has always been sinister to me.

There are others that I used to love when I was a teenager/young adult that I can't listen to now. With age comes disillusionment I guess...

sykes.1 said...

His songs grow on you. Every time I hear one of his songs I like it better. Senility is thebbest salt.

Texan99 said...

"Every Breath You Take" was meant to be sinister. Sting was appalled that people took it to be a love song. "It's about surveillance, for Heaven's sake," he said. He often wrote ironic songs from the POV of a somewhat twisted mind, like "Don't Stand So Close to Me" or "Roxanne."

I know what you mean about "Gentle on My Mind." That was an irritating period in songwriting, with lots of lyrics about how cool it would be if chicks didn't obsess about abandonment. What's their problem, anyway?

I can remember being startled when my aunt refused to let my cousins play "Love the One You're With" in the house--couldn't imagine what she was on about. Now, 40-45 years later, I see that her happy marriage was as strong on the day my uncle died a few years ago as it was when they walked down the aisle, and she has four kids who married young and are still in their happy first marriages. The grandkids all seem headed down the same path.