Bruce Springsteen Cites Jimmy Webb and Glen Campbell as Influences on New Album

The New Vanity Fair cover story features Bruce Springsteen talking about his upcoming book and coming to terms with his life. In the article, Springsteen talks about a new album that will be released after his busy book and touring schedule. He also talks about the album's influence:

“It’s a solo record, more of a singer-songwriter kind of record,” he said. Intriguingly, though, it does not follow in the spare, acoustic tradition of such previous solo albums as Nebraska, The Ghost of Tom Joad, and Devils & Dust. Rather, it’s inspired by a recent immersion in the 60s collaborations of the songwriter Jimmy Webb and the singer Glen Campbell, “pop records with a lot of strings and instrumentation,” he said. “So the record is somewhat in that vein.” That’s as much as he’ll reveal at the moment.

Read the complete article at Vanity Fair

Jimmy to Begin Historic UK and Ireland Tour September 9

Jimmy will be touring the UK from September 9 – 25 in what promise to be historic performances. The first show will be a technological breakthrough: a live streaming performance at The Convent in Stroud will enable fans to purchase tickets to view on their computers and mobile devices, while tickets will be available at the venue for the live performance.

Jimmy will also perform at legendary venues including Cadogan Hall in London, The Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, Carnegie Hall in Dunfermline, Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow, the Apex in Bury St. Edmunds and Milton Keynes in the Stables. Jimmy will also perform a special show at the National Concert Hall in Dublin, Ireland.

Don't miss this very special opportunity to see Jimmy Webb live in the UK and Ireland. Click the button below to visit the Tour page, including all tour dates.

Jimmy Webb is returning to MacArthur Park on July 9 to sing 'MacArthur Park'

The Los Angeles Times
July 6, 2016

It’s time to whip up another batch of sweet green icing: Songwriter Jimmy Webb will return to Los Angeles for a performance July 9 at MacArthur Park, where he will sing his iconic 1968 ballad “MacArthur Park” in the place that inspired him to write it.

(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

It will be just the second time he has sung the song in the mid-city park. It’s a locale he spent time in while he was still a struggling songwriter trying to carve out a career in the music business after moving to Southern California from his native Oklahoma.

Whiling away time in MacArthur Park, as a break from what he called the “dreariness of a really bottom-scale apartment” he was renting in Silver Lake, put him front and center to images he immortalized in the song. It became an international hit through actor Richard Harris’ sung-spoken recording that ran more than seven minutes.

Jimmy to Receive Academy of Country Special Award

The Academy of Country Music announced today the Special Awards, Studio Recording Awards and Songwriter of the Year Award winners for the 51st Academy of Country Music Awards.

Honorees and winners will be celebrated during the 10th Annual ACM Honors, an evening dedicated to recognizing the special honorees and off-camera category winners from the 51st Academy of Country Music Awards.  The event will take place in the fall at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn.

 This year's honorees includes Oklahoma natives Carrie Underwood and Jimmy Webb.

The Academy of Country Music Special Awards are voted on by the ACM Board of Directors for specific achievements. The Studio Recording and Songwriter of the Year Awards are voted on by specific categories of the Academy’s professional membership.

Here's what the ACM says about Jimmy:

Poet’s Award – Eddie Rabbitt (awarded posthumously) and Jimmy Webb

The late Eddie Rabbitt and Elk City nativeJimmy Webb have been chosen to receive the Poet’s Award, which honors songwriters for outstanding musical and/or lyrical contributions throughout their careers in the field of country music.

Rabbitt scored country/pop crossover success starting in 1979 with hits "I Love a Rainy Night,” "Drivin' My Life Away,” "Every Which Way But Loose” and “Suspicions.” His career began in the late 1960s as a professional songwriter who penned Elvis Presley’s "Kentucky Rain" and Ronnie Milsap’s "Pure Love.” While working to build his career as an artist, Rabbitt opened for Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers. Rabbitt also recorded duets with Juice Newton (“Both to Each Other (Friends and Lovers)”) and fellow 2016 ACM honoree Crystal Gayle (“You and I”). Rabbitt is an ACM Award winner and Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee. He died May 7, 1998 at age 56.

Webb's remarkable career began in 1965, crossing numerous genres and sales milestones. He is the pen behind platinum-selling classics recorded by multiple artists. "Up, Up and Away” was recorded by The 5th Dimension, Nancy Sinatra and Diana Ross & The Supremes. “MacArthur Park” was recorded by Waylon Jennings, Dionne Warwick, Donna Summer and Glen Campbell.

Webb and fellow 2016 ACM Special Award honoree Campbell had a particularly fruitful professional relationship, resulting in the hits "Wichita Lineman,” “Galveston,” "By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” and others. Among the stellar artists who have recorded or performed Webb’s compositions are Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Judy Collins, Isaac Hayes, Art Garfunkel, Linda Ronstadt and Carly Simon. Webb is a member of both the Songwriters Hall of Fame in New York, and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. More than 50 years into his career, Webb still performs regularly.

Previous recipients of the Poet’s Award include Bill Anderson, Bobby Braddock, Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, Guy Clark, Jack Clement, Hank Cochran, Dean Dillon, Merle Haggard, Tom T. Hall, Harlan Howard, Kris Kristofferson, Bob McDill, Roger Miller, Buck Owens, Fred Rose, Don Schlitz, Cindy Walker and Hank Williams.

Legendary Songwriter Jimmy Webb Returns to Boise

FANS INVITED TO SUBMIT SONGS FOR  “HITS AND REQUESTS” CONCERT

  • Wednesday, April 6, 2016 at 7:30 p.m.
  • The Sapphire Room at the Riverside Hotel

With 50 years of hit songs, Hall of Fame songwriter Jimmy Webb has plenty of songs to choose from for his current tour, as he pulls from the iconic music made famous by such diverse artists as Linda Ronstadt, Art Garfunkel, Donna Summer, Glen Campbell, and Johnny Maestro & The Brooklyn Bridge.  For his April 6 return to The Sapphire Room at the Riverside Hotel in Boise, Webb is turning it over to the audience to choose the set list.   

Webb’s post-concert conversations with fans – which can last as long as the shows – often focus on the songs they want to hear him play beyond the big Billboard hits like “Wichita Lineman,” “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” and “MacArthur Park.”

“Meeting the fans in person and reading their comments on Facebook, seeing and hearing what they care about, for me, as a songwriter, is the truth--the emotion, the connection the feeds my creativity,” says Webb.  “There is an overwhelming demand to perform songs that are off the beaten path. And it’s fun for me to play these songs and break the routine.” 

Perhaps this show will feature the Fifth Dimension-recorded “Paper Cup” instead of “Up, Up and Away;” one any of the many songs Michael Feinstein consistently interprets – “She Moves, Eyes Follow” or “Only One Life;” an alternate song from Richard Harris’ debut produced/written/arranged by Webb, A Tramp Shining, beyond “Didn’t We” and “MacArthur Park;” or if the fans demand it, the difficult “Still Within the Sound of My Voice,” sung so spectacularly by Linda Ronstadt.   Of course, Webb won’t leave out all the expected songs – just mixing it up a little for the legions of “Webb Heads,” many who travel in from out of state or out of the U.S. for the songwriter’s shows.

Fans can submit requests for the concert below or on Jimmy's Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/JimmyWebbMusic 

Each night during his live shows, whatever the set list, Webb reminds audiences why this preacher’s son from Oklahoma has been a hit maker since the age of 16 and a beacon through five generations of the Great American Songbook.  Webb enhances his virtuoso performance of iconic tunes with riveting tales of the inspiration behind some of pop music’s biggest songs and singers, and a humorous tour into the days and nights of a songwriting prodigy.  It’s more than a concert – the show is like a master class, a fascinating “all-access pass” to the songwriting process and the music industry.  

Tickets: $35, $45 - available at 208.383.0200 or www.americanamusicseries.net.

Jimmy Offers Fans Input on Set List for "Hits and Requests" Concert

Friday, October 23 at 8 pm at The Cutting Room, NYC Saturday, October 24 at 7:30 pm at The Towne Crier Café, Beacon NY 

With 50 years of hit songs, Hall of Fame songwriter Jimmy Webb has plenty of songs to choose from for his current tour, as he pulls from the iconic music made famous by such diverse artists as Linda Ronstadt, Art Garfunkel, Donna Summer, Glen Campbell, and Johnny Maestro & The Brooklyn Bridge.  For his two October New York shows, Friday, October 23 at The Cutting Room (http://thecuttingroomnyc.com) and Saturday, October 24 at the Towne Crier Café (http://www.townecrier.com) Webb is turning it over to the audience to choose the set list. 

Webb’s post-concert conversations with fans – which can last as long as the shows – often focus on the songs they want to hear him play beyond the big Billboard hits like “Wichita Lineman,” “By The Time I Get to Phoenix,” and “MacArthur Park.”

“Meeting the fans in person and reading their comments on Facebook, seeing and hearing what they care about, for me, as a songwriter, is the truth--the emotion, the connection the feeds my creativity,” says Webb.  “There is an overwhelming demand to perform songs that are off the beaten path. And it’s fun for me to play these songs and break the routine.” 

Perhaps this show will feature the Fifth Dimension-recorded “Paper Cup” instead of “Up, Up and Away;” one any of the many songs Michael Feinstein consistently interprets – “She Moves, Eyes Follow” or “Only One Life;” an alternate song from Richard Harris’ debut produced/written/arranged by Webb, A Tramp Shining, beyond “Didn’t We” and “MacArthur Park;” or if the fans demand it, the difficult “Still Within the Sound of My Voice,” sung so spectacularly by Linda Ronstadt.   Of course, Webb won’t leave out all the expected songs – just mixing it up a little for the legions of “Webb Heads,” many who travel in from out of state or out of the U.S. for the songwriter’s shows.

Fans can submit requests for the October 23rd and 24th shows at https://www.facebook.com/JimmyWebbMusic or http://www.jimmywebb.com/.  Submissions must be received by October 17, 2015 to be considered for the concerts.

Each night during his live shows, whatever the set list, Webb reminds audiences why this preacher’s son from Oklahoma has been a hit maker since the age of 16 and a beacon through five generations of the Great American Songbook. Webb enhances his virtuoso performance of iconic tunes with riveting tales of the inspiration behind some of pop music’s biggest songs and singers, and a humorous tour into the days and nights of a songwriting prodigy.  It’s more than a concert – the show is like a master class, a fascinating “all-access pass” to the songwriting process and the music industry.

Jimmy Webb – The Glen Campbell Years

From the Delaware Public Media, read and listen to Jimmy's interview about "The Glen Campbell Years."

Songwriter Jimmy Webb has had many chart topping hits, spanning a wide variety of musical genres. He received his first gold record at age 18, was the National Songwriter Hall of Fame's youngest ever inductee and the only artist ever to receive Grammy Awards for music, lyrics, and orchestration.

But perhaps Webb's most enduring legacy is his musical partnership with Glen Campbell. The two musicians worked on over one hundred recordings together beginning with “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” which won two Grammy awards. But at the time, the two had never met in person. Webb says that happened a couple of years later at a recording studio in L.A.

Jimmy Webb review – hallowed pop classics and elaborate yarns

The master songwriter interweaves his version of tracks such as MacArthur Park and Wichita Lineman with tales of life with Richard Harris and Glen Campbell

The Guardian
By Dave Simpson
Photograph: Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images

Jimmy Webb is remembering how, aged 14, he heard Glen Campbell’s Turn Around, Look at Me on the radio and begged his father for a dollar to buy the record. Shortly afterwards, when he started writing songs, the youngster would pray “to write a song as good as that and meet someone like Glen Campbell who can sing it”. Fatefully, of course, he met the man himself, and Campbell’s performances of Webb’s Galveston and By the Time I Get to Phoenix are among pop’s most hallowed recordings.

Perhaps had Webb’s songs not been sung by some of the greatest voices of the 20th century, including Frank Sinatra, he’d be recognised as a singer too. Here, performing his classics at a grand piano, he can’t reach the highest notes but gives the songs the loving care a father reserves for his children.

The evening rollercoasters between classics and elaborate yarns. There’s the one about how a radio station stopped playing Fifth Dimenson hit Up, Up and Away, thinking it was about drugs, not balloons. Webb’s father marched on the building clutching “a .45 and a Bible”. When Webb was demonstrating songs for the “notoriously finicky” Art Garfunkel – who became a lifelong friend – he was asked for “something more yellow” and handed over All I Know. Tales of Herculean drinking sessions with the actor Richard Harris abound – before Webb delivers a stunning rendition of their orchestral epic MacArthur Park.

There’s a moving moment when Webb talks about Campbell’s struggle with Alzheimer’s – and how, recently, when the fading country star accidentally sang Wichita Lineman twice, the audience shouted, “Again.” After Webb’s own beautiful rendition of the song, a punter shouts, “Again!” The stories come so thick and fast that Webb only manages seven songs in 90 minutes. But what wonderful songs they are.

Jimmy Webb shares the stories behind his songs

CLEVELAND.COM
By Chuck Yarborough, The Plain Dealer

CLEVELAND, Ohio – It would be too simple to say that songwriter Jimmy Webb gave us the VH-1 "Behind the Song'' stories of hits like "Wichita Lineman,'' "Galveston,'' "Didn't We'' and "MacArthur Park'' Saturday night. Oh, the affable Oklahoma native did tell a packed Music Box Supper Club the backstories of those four and four others - "By the Time I Get to Phoenix,'' "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress,'' "Up, Up and Away and "The Highwayman.''

PHOTO: CLEVELAND.COM

PHOTO: CLEVELAND.COM

But what we got was so much more than just the origins of the songs that Glen Campbell, Frank Sinatra, Judy Collins, the Fifth Dimension, Richard Harris and scores of other artists turned into megahits.

For ninety fascinating minutes, intentionally or not, the Grammy winner revealed himself through sometimes funny, sometimes poignant and always entertaining stories that were only tangentially about the songs.

Yeah, sure, the history was there. "Galveston'' is about a Texan who gets sent to Vietnam. Johnny Rivers was a typical boss, making what seems on the surface to be unreasonable requests just before going on vacation. Campbell recorded 120 Webb songs. Collins rescued "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress'' from the scrap heap. Sinatra – MISTER Sinatra – was as good at yanking a chain as he was at dooby-dooby-doing.

All that stuff was fascinating. But really, some or all of the information is available through Google.

What's not there - or on Wikipedia, allmusic.com or any other website - is what turned a cotton-pickin' Oklahoma plowboy whose dad was a Bible-thumping, gun-toting, telepathic Baptist preacher into one of the most prolific and gifted songwriters of his generation.

Jimmy Comments on the Passing of Joe Cocker

For a number of reasons, the news of Joe Cocker's passing is one of the most personally devastating events of this year – or any year. 

Joe attended my first marriage ceremony when I was in my 20s – and I was with him in an LA studio not too long ago where we were working on a track.

I loved him musically because he drew no artificial boundaries between pop and rock.  He made me feel comfortable in his world. He was a loving guy who has been – contrary to his image – sober for most of his life. He was devoted to simply reaching out and helping others. 

It was  a great honor for Joe to record "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" on his album I Can Stand a Little Rain (1974), produced by Jim Price and again on my most recent cd "Still Within the Sound of My Voice" produced by Fred Mollin in 2012.

When we were last in the studio, it was incredible to watch him sing – he felt each note of the music – he gesticulated each note.  The song may have started with his voice but it moved through him to the tips of his fingers. 

Time spent with him was always relaxed and enjoyable and to say he will be missed doesn't seem to carry the necessary sense of his importance in my life and in the world of music.  But 'he will be missed.'

"MacArthur Park Night" on the Late Show with David Letterman

The Late Show with David Letterman called it "MacArthur Night" last night, as a spectacular version of Jimmy Webb's classic song was performed in its six-minute entirety — by the CBS Orchestra, led by “Late Show” band leader Paul Schaffer, with Webb playing the harpsichord. Shaffer, Will Lee (on vocals), Webb et al. will be assisted by an additional 23 musicians, including a bevy of string players. Webb is also known for penning “Worst That Could Happen” as well as “Wichita Lineman” and “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” — both recorded by Glen Campbell.

The song, famously recorded in 1968 by actor Richard Harris, has been covered by everyone from Carrie Underwood to Weird Al Yankovic to Donna Summer, who did a chart-topping disco version in 1978.

"If you missed this performance on Monday night’s “Late Show With David Letterman,” carve 6 minutes out of your day and take in a version of “MacArthur Park” that even Donna Summer, Waylon Jennings and Wayne Newton would have to admit may well be the best performance of the Jimmy Webb classic ever–from the orchestration to Will Lee’s vocals.

The cherry on top? Check out who’s playing keyboard and piano with Paul Shaffer–Mr. Webb himself."
– The Blaze

Paul Shaffer, Jimmy Webb, Will Lee and the CBS Orchestra blow the roof off with a performance of "MacArthur Park."

Jimmy Webb Tune Will Take Another Turn on ‘Late Show’

‘Someone left the cake out in the rain” …

The long, varied history of Jimmy Webb’s tune “MacArthur Park” will take yet another turn on this Monday’s “Late Show with David Letterman.”

The song, famously recorded in 1968 by actor Richard Harris, has been covered by everyone from Carrie Underwood to Weird Al Yankovic to Donna Summer, who did a chart-topping disco version in 1978.

On Monday’s “Late Show” (11:35 p.m./Ch. 2), “MacArthur Park” will be performed — in its six-minute entirety — by the CBS Orchestra, led by “Late Show” band leader Paul Schaffer, with Webb playing the harpsichord. Shaffer, Will Lee (on vocals), Webb et al. will be assisted by an additional 23 musicians, including a bevy of string players. Webb is also known for penning “Worst That Could Happen” as well as “Wichita Lineman” and “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” — both recorded by Glen Campbell.

Trivia fact: Harris talked about his recording of “MacArthur Park” as one of the last guests on Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show” in 1992.

– Michael Starr, The New York Post

100 Greatest Country Songs of All Time

From Rolling Stone: 16. Glen Campbell, 'Witchita Lineman' (1968)

The romantic story about "Wichita Lineman" is that Jimmy Webb wrote it after seeing a lonely guy working at the top of a telephone pole while driving through the voids of rural Oklahoma. The truth is that Webb's last song for Glen Campbell, "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," had been a hit, and Capitol Records had called to demand more. "I really sat down to write something that would please them mostly," Webb confessed to the Dallas Observer in 2006. The sound – a haze of soapy violins and expensive chord changes – had more to do with the onset of soft rock than the rudiments of country, but the subject matter was a new spin on an old story. Country calls it individualism; Webb called it loneliness.
– By Mike Powell

Jimmy Webb at the Iridium

I will be able to say I saw Jimmy Webb sitting at a Steinway, on the Iridium stage, performing his songs. Words and Music that are embedded in the musical soul of our country, and will be played for generations to come.

One of the reasons I love going to cabaret is the anticipation of which of my emotional dials will the performer turn on, and to what level will they take me. Romance, excitement, melancholy, nervousness, restlessness, respectful envy, admiration, and a bunch of others. Then there is Reverence! That only happens when I’m in the presence of someone who I know has created melodies, harmonies, and words that will live forever. Jimmy Webb is in that category.  To hear the composer sing and play his songs is always something special, and to hear the songs of Jimmy Webb performed by Jimmy Webb is a momentous experience.  I hope it’s not too over the top to say, but for the non music lovers out there, I can only compare it to hearing Thomas Jefferson reading the Declaration of Independence, or Abraham Lincoln reading the Gettysburg Address. They actually wrote that stuff and they are performing it for me!

Jimmy sings them all, “Up, Up and Away,” “Wichita Lineman,” “MacArthur Park,” “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” and more!  And all the while, Jimmy, in a low key polite mid western personality casually tells you stories about his friends, Waylon (Jennings), Glen (Cambell), Richard (Harris), Art,(Garfunkel), Joe (Cocker), and more!

Jimmy Featured on BBC's "Loose Ends"

Jimmy Webb

Jimmy's new ‘Still Within the Sound of My Voice’ was released on Monday November 4 in the UK. Jimmy flew out for the occasion and did a number of press appearances as well as performing a few special dates. Jimmy was featured on BBC's "Loose Ends" and talked about the new album and his career. In addition, Jimmy backs singer Glen Tilbrook on the classic "Wichita Lineman."

Listen to Jimmy on the BBC's "Loose Ends" (Jimmy's interview starts at 32 minutes).

 

Concert review: Jimmy Webb Sunday night at the Blue Door

Anyone who has heard a Jimmy Webb song – and if you’ve listened to any popular music in the past four decades or so, it’s hard to imagine you haven’t caught at least a few of his iconic hits – knows that the Oklahoma native has an immense gift for storytelling. But until you’ve seen the legendary songwriter in concert, you can’t know just how adroit he is at weaving a hilariously engaging tale.

Jimmy Webb

On the second of a two-stand at the Blue Door, the multiple Grammy winner held the sold-out audience in his thrall Sunday night as he shared memories, played piano and belted hits like “Galveston” and “Wichita Lineman.” The intimacy of the listening room suited Webb’s down-home, free-wheeling show; in fact, he said he considered the venue, which he has played regularly for the past nine years, his performing home in his home state.

Webb, 67, opened the show performing “Oklahoma Nights” in honor of singer-songwriter Sarah Lee Guthrie, who attended the show with her husband and musical partner Johnny Irion. Guthrie is the granddaughter of Okemah-born songwriting icon Woody Guthrie and the daughter of singer-songwriter Arlo Guthrie, who was the first person to record the song back in 1981.

The songsmith cracked up the crowd with his tales of growing up in Elk City, including his uproarious imitation of his Baptist minister father, his youthful prayers that he would one day get to work with country star Glen Campbell and his experiences outraging the little old ladies in his father’s congregation with his lively variations on “Amazing Grace,” which naturally led to a rather impressive reenactment on the keys. Of course, Campbell recorded several Webb songs, including “Galveston” and “Wichita Lineman,” and the Songwriters Hall of Famer expressed his admiration for Campbell’s grace in handling his Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis, including playing a full farewell tour with the debilitating illness.

Read the complete review > 

Performance Review: "It Just Doesn't Get Any Better Than This"

The Austinist reviewed Jimmy's recent performance at One World Theatre in Austin, Texas, September 22, 2013.

Jimmy Webb, the only artist to ever receive Grammy Awards for music, lyrics, and orchestration, was in town recently to kick off a tour of select cities in support of his most recent collection of duets, Still Within the Sound of My Voice. He started his tour in Texas, which he claims as one of his two home states (Oklahoma being the other).

Jimmy Webb

Mr. Webb greeted the enthusiastic audience at One World Theater, noting that it had been a while since he'd last performed (by our reckoning, it's been a little more than five years since his last Austin performance at the Cactus Cafe). He then proceeded to flub the lyrics on the first song, "The Highwayman," restarted and then played it through without a hitch. Jimmy, we forgive you, because the air that evening was thick with songs and the stories around and behind them. From talking about his daddy who was a Southern Baptist preacher and "a person you could call at 2:00 a.m. to take care of a snake with a .45," to getting "at least two album's worth of songs" out of a good breakup, he kept the audience listening and laughing during the 90 minute-plus performance. He stayed after the performance for meet-and-greet with the audience, signing CDs and having photos taken until the last person in line had a chance to visit with him.

For those born sometime after the Baby Boomers, mentioning his name usually gets a "Who?" in return—until you mention the names of the dozens of hits he's written over the years. The list goes on and on, as does the roster of artists who've recorded them—a veritable "who's who" in music of the past 50 years. At the end of the day, Webb is a songwriter—a tunesmith, with more in common with Tin Pan Alley and the writers in the Brill Building in NYC, as well as with our own community of beloved Texas songwriters. These are people who found their most enduring life's work to be the songs they wrote for singers who vocal talents were a match for their material.

Webb's two most recent albums are both collections of duets with well known singers, including the singer/musician who has been most closely associated with his work, Glenn Campbell. The first of these, Just Across the River, includes a duet of "Galveston" with Lucinda Williams, who wanted to sing it with him because it was a song her mother had taught her when she was a little girl. The last song on the album is "All I Know" (which gave Art Garfunkel a major hit in the '70's). This one is particularly poignant, because it's likely the last known performance by Linda Ronstadt, recorded prior to the loss of her singing voice to Parkinsons Disease.

Both albums capture some of the 'lighting in the bottle' level of magic that has always been rich within his songs. The A-list singers performing on the most recent one - including Lyle Lovett, Keith Urban, Art Garfunkel, Joe Cocker, Brian Wilson, and Kris Kristofferson with his manly commentary-and-warble - make this collection a veritable snapshot of some of the very best of popular music, and a musical love letter to future generations. When it comes to songwriters and the singers who interpret these tunes, it just doesn't get any better than this.

 

Songwriter Jimmy Webb Wows Crowd at Dallas Kessler Theater

The son of a Baptist minister, Jimmy Webb grew up in rural Oklahoma. It doesn’t sound like the kind of pedigree that would help create one of the great American songwriters, but that’s precisely what Webb became.

By the late 1960s, he had written such hits as “Up, Up and Away” (for the 5th Dimension) and “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Wichita Lineman” and “Galveston” (all for Glen Campbell). He would go on to write songs for dozens of other big-name vocalists, including Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand.

At 67, he has trouble reaching the highest notes, but he can still play a mean piano, and he has to be one of the best storytellers in America. On Sunday night, he performed a 90-minute set at the Kessler Theater to a crowd that hung on every note in what amounted to a love fest. It was, however, a deserved love fest.

Webb’s alchemy of storytelling and music is so special that it’s not a leap to imagine it as a one-man Broadway play, not unlike Billy Crystal’s “700 Sundays.” Helping to make the evening even more special was warm-up act Grace Pettis, a former award winner at the Kerrville Folk Festival, whose lyrical ballads set the tone perfectly.

Webb opened with “The Highwayman,” and after the song, began telling his remarkable stories. He explained that, during the 1960s, songwriters turned increasingly to politics, though he did not — his way of noting that “Galveston” is not an anti-war song aimed at Vietnam.

He hasn’t always had success with radio stations, as he said in telling a wonderful story about KOMA, the big station in Oklahoma, refusing to play “Up, Up and Away” because they thought the subject matter was drugs. Webb’s ex-Marine preacher man of a daddy loaded up his Bible and a .45 and drove to KOMA, which had the song on the air in 15 minutes.

“It’s now part of the family folklore,” Webb said with a laugh.

He told terrific stories about “Mr. Sinatra,” who recorded “Didn’t We,” as did Streisand. Webb sang a gorgeous version of “All I Know” and offered a heartbreaking aside about Linda Ronstadt, who sang it as a duet with Webb on his 2010 album, Just Across the River. Ronstadt recently announced that she has Parkinson’s disease. As Webb said sadly, “This may be her last recorded song.”

He sang “Wichita Lineman” and did a one-song encore of the more-than-eight-minute “MacArthur Park.” And then he went to the Kessler lobby and signed autographs until every single fan had gone home.

Jimmy in the News with Album Reviews and Interviews

Jimmy's brand-new album, Still Within the Sound of My Voice, is garnering rave reviews around the U.S.A. following is a sampling with links to complete reviews. Jimmy's also been available for interviews and following are links to those.

Reviews: 

The Washington Post: Jimmy Webb spins another unique album, ‘Still Within the Sound of My Voice’
Album review > 

The Los Angeles Times:  Album review: Jimmy Webb's 'Still Within the Sound of My Voice'
Album review > 

Chicago Daily Herald: Jimmy Webb spins another unique album
Album review > 

Interviews: 

Huffington Post: A Chat with Jimmy Webb
Interview > 

My SS News: Jimmy Webb remembers: America’s songwriter talks about Elvis, Kenny Rankin, Linda Ronstadt and Glen Campbell
Interview 

 

Jimmy's New Album Earns 4 (****) Stars in Rolling Stone

JImmy's just-released album, Still Within the Sound of My Voice, has received four stars in the new issue of Rolling Stone. It's also received four and a half stars from Rolling Stone readers. Following is an excerpt and link to the complete review: 

Jimmy Webb

For well over four decades, Jimmy Webb's songs have helped shape the American musical landscape. And "landscape" is the operative term. A native of Oklahoma, Webb imbues his songs with a cinematic expansiveness and a musical sophistication that smooths the edges of his rootsy sources. They sometimes evoke specific places – "Wichita Lineman," "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" – but more often Webb's songs summon an internal realm of the imagination. Yearning and regret loom large in Webb's songbook, as does a particular kind of American loneliness, the emotional flip side of the country's obsession with individualism. His work uniquely explores how it's possible to feel so alone, regardless of whether you're finding love or losing it. 

All this is indelibly clear on Still Within the Sound of My Voice, an equally appealing follow-up to Webb's 2010 release Just Across the River. The two albums work on the same premise: Prominent singers – in this case, Lyle Lovett, Keith Urban, Kris Kristofferson, Art Garfunkel, Joe Cocker and Brian Wilson, among others – join Webb for duets on some of his greatest tracks. It's a tribute to Webb's craftsmanship and the depth of his catalog that after 27 songs, the quality of the selections on these two albums has not dipped a notch. And it's a testament to the power of Webb's own highly personal, granular style of singing that none of those high-profile guests ever quite overshadows Webb himself. 

Read the complete review >