Jimmy Webb is a multi Grammy award winning singer-songwriter. His songs have been performed by some of the greatest voices such as Glen Campbell, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Elvis Presley, R.E.M and Michael Feinstein. This was his first tour in about 5 or 6 years.
There’s something different about seeing a songwriter perform their own song. It was such a treat to sit in the hall and watch Jimmy tell us about the story behind the songs, and then perform them.
Sitting at a grand piano on the stage, he chatted and joked about his career. It felt like an intimate conversation between friends, not a concert hall full of people.
He spoke very emotionally about his old friend Glen Campbell, who now has Alzheimers. He first heard of Glen when he was a young man working on a farm, listening to the radio while he drove the tractor. Glen chose to record By the Time I get to Phoenix – catapulting Jimmy to songwriter royalty, with many famous artists recording his songs.
His story about Wichita Lineman was hilarious. In short – someone spray painted his piano green, so by the time he’d finished writing the song he was green all over, with little sticky green fingerprints all over the white piano keys (check out his book for the full story, it’s worth it). Campbell’s version of the song alone sold 44 million copies, not including the cover versions done by so many others.
This was the first time I felt I’d ever understood the lyrics of McArthur Park. Though, talking to others after the show, it turned out we still all had different ideas about what it meant.
What an amazing night. Pick up a copy of his latest book “The Cake and The Rain” if you want to find out more about this fascinating man.