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Jimmy Webb UK Tour, 2022
Review by Dylan Jones

Jimmy Webb – A Secular Religious Experience

 

In the pantheon of great London concert halls, Cadogan Hall slips right in there between the Royal Albert Hall and the Festival Hall, a 950-seat capacity concert arena just the shortest of short strolls from the rush of Sloane Square. Home to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, it can often feel like a church.

    Which is certainly what it felt like last Friday. That was when me and half a dozen friends saw our first significant concert since we all emerged from lockdown, a rare visit to these shores from the great American singer-songwriter, Jimmy Webb. I’ve seen Jimmy perform all over the world – the first date I had with the woman who would become my wife was at one of Jimmy’s concerts at the Café Royal - and yet I can unequivocally say that last week’s performance in Chelsea was the very best I’ve witnessed by the man. At the tender age of 75, he not only continues to be a gifted raconteur (with many stories I hadn’t heard before), his singing and piano playing seem to have actually benefitted from the enforced isolation of the last two years.

    God knows how.

    His melancholy melodies have often seemed like hymns – to my ears, even “Up, Up and Away” has an odd, wistful air about it – and here, on a stage bathed in a Jubilee-appropriate royal purple light, “Didn’t We”, “By the Time I Get to Phoenix”, “Wichita Lineman”, “Galveston” and “The Highwayman” sounded almost holy.

    You could even call it communion.

    Nowadays, most social events are scanned by their audience for relevant passages suitable for social media. Instagram is my digital drug of choice, and having scanned the half a dozen short films I’d recorded during the gig, there was only one thing I was ever going to post. My 59-second clip of Jimmy pounding through one of the instrumental sections of “MacArthur Park” was something of a revelation. He must have played this damn song hundreds – possibly even thousands – of times, and yet it was as if he were coming to it for the first time, using the keys to express all the joy and hurt contained in that magnificent creation. As he banged away, his arms flailing in front of him, it could have been an exorcism.  

   I went to see “Jimmy Webb” (the nickname Richard Harris gave him, back when he was recording “MacArthur Park”, perhaps thinking that using a mere Christian name was a tad too inconsequential) with my oldest friend, a famous singer I’ve known since I was 17, and she, like me, almost had tears in her eyes. She too, had seen Jimmy perform many times down through the ages, and she thought the man she saw at Cadogan he was a man reborn.

    “Jimmy Webb”, he’ll come back again, and again…
And again and again and again and again.

 

Dylan Jones, author of The Wichita Lineman

Press Release

"Live and let live, love and be loved

Give and it shall be given

Seek and you shall find

Open the door to your heart and open it wide

Someone is standing outside"

-  Jimmy Webb, composer "Someone Is Standing Outside"

For Immediate Release                                                                    August 19, 2020

 

Contact: Elaine Schock or Meredith Louie

               Shock Ink 818-932-0001

 

Legendary Songwriter And Musician Jimmy Webb

Celebrates Birthday With New Music This Week

      

Webb and Thelma Houston

Release New Version of "Someone Is Standing Outside"

To Encourage a Return to Kindness In Our Times of Fear and Injustice

 

Ontario's Enter A Cappella Choir

From Sir William Mulock Secondary School Accompany

The Two Award Winning Artists on New Performance

In Cross-Country Distanced-Recording Sessions

Someone is Standing Outside (2020)

(NEW YORK)  Two award-winning music legends - songwriter, singer, pianist, arranger and producer Jimmy Webb and R&B Grammy winner Thelma Houston - reunited to perform a new version of their song "Someone Is Standing Outside" to abate the feelings of divisiveness and isolation with a message of being kind to one another and spreading positivity and love. The song is available for download and streaming on all digital service providers today, August 19. This week, Webb also celebrates his 74th birthday. Listen to the song now, here youtu.be/--rrBatc36g

 

Webb notes: "Thelma emailed me when the pandemic started and suggested we re-release 'Someone is Standing Outside.' Shortly after we started talking about it, George Floyd was killed and the protests started. We all felt alone in our quarantine, battered by misunderstandings and fear and injustice. I thought again about the song, and updated the lyrics to reflect where we are. 

 

"The song is a reminder that we are all part of  humanKIND - kind is what we were meant to be. This song reminds us to look beyond ourselves. Life will be better if we care for one another. There is nothing political in that. It is just the truth. Take care of one another. Love to all. Thelma, the choir, the arranger, the producers, the mixer, the publicist - all gave their time because they too believe in this message."

 

Lyrics
"Someone Is Standing Outside" (2020)
     
My dad was a preacher.
A plain self taught teacher.
The world was confusing for him,
just like you.
      
A life simply led from the book that he read. And he said something
Once and I think it's still true.  
     
Live and let live. 
Love and be loved. 
Give and it shall Be given. 
Seek and you shall find. 
Open the door to your heart and open it wide. Someone is standing outside. 
     
Come Presidents, statesmen
and tv debatesmen.
Don't throw the book away,
 It's written for you. 
     
Live and let live. 
Love and be loved. 
Give and it shall Be given. 
Seek and you shall find. 
Open the door to your heart and open it wide. Someone is standing outside.

"I think the song is so relevant today. Jimmy writes classics, standards songs that span the ages and I love singing them, " said Houston. 

 

Written by Webb, the song was originally recorded for Houston's debut album Sunshower

 (1969), which all but one of the 12 tracks was composed and arranged by Webb. He also produced the album which reached #50 on the Billboard R&B chart. Houston went on to be the first solo female artist at Motown Records to receive the Grammy Award for "Best R&B Female Vocal Performance" for her hit single "Don't Leave Me This Way."

 

For the new recording of "Someone Is Standing Outside," Webb wrote new lyrics, including:

Come Presidents and statesmen, and TV debatesmen

Don't throw that book away, it's written for you

 

This month, Webb recorded his piano performance in Long Island, while Houston contributed her vocals in Los Angeles. Webb's long-time producer and award-winning musician Fred Mollin, put everything together and produced the final mix in Nashville.

 

After hearing the Enter A Cappella choir from Sir William Mulock Secondary School in Newmarket Ontario Canada perform of his arrangement of his song "That's All I've Got To Say

in April, Webb invited them to perform on the new version of "Someone Is Standing Outside." The choral arrangement was composed by the choir's own Kristen Antunes. Each student's vocal was recorded separately from their Toronto-suburb bedroom and remotely directed by Chris Uchida, head of music at Sir William Mulock S.S. 

 

Uchida added "As a public high school teacher, I am always looking for ways to engage my students and provide them with rich, meaningful and memorable experiences. You couldn't ask for a more amazing and special experience than to work with Jimmy and Thelma on a project like this. Because of the pandemic, schools were closed and events cancelled. And these students never got a chance to perform - until Mr. Webb contacted us. Now, when these students look back to high school, I know moments like this will be what they remember the most. We are incredibly grateful that we were entrusted with this meaningful recording."

Webb has a magnificent catalog of his own songs to draw from whenever he performs. Ranked in the top 50 on Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time ("recognized today for his unique explorations of themes of loneliness and individuality in the American landscape") his catalog boasts contemporary classics that are indelible compositions such as "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," "MacArthur Park," "Up, Up and Away," "Still Within the Sound of My Voice," "Galveston," "Highwayman," "The Worst That Could Happen," "Didn't We" and 

Jimmy Webb (photog: Henry Diltz)

more. Glen Campbell's hit recording of his song "Wichita Lineman," was just inducted into the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry. His latest releases include his memoir, The Cake and the Rain, and SlipCover, an 11-track album of Webb's piano instrumentals of songs by Randy Newman, Billy Joel, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder, and others.

 

 

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facebook.com/JimmyWebbMusic

NRR-13.jpg

Glen Campbell's Recording of Jimmy Webb's "Wichita Lineman" Inducted Into National Recording Registry Of The Library of Congress. 

"Glen Campbell's recording of Jimmy Webb's "Wichita Lineman," with its yearning refrain of "I need you more than want you and I want you for all time," has been inducted into the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress, ensuring that, like the lonesome lover's sentiment in the timeless song, it will live on until the end of time. 

The honor was announced today by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden who inducted the recording along with two dozen others in the 2019 class of audio treasures worthy of preservation because of their cultural, historic and aesthetic importance to the nation's recorded sound heritage...."

 

On Jimmy Webb's new CD, SlipCover (May 17, S Curve Records) Webb, using his own piano arrangements, plays some of his favorite songs of his generation showing off the complex melodies that will make you hear these musicians "more as composers, than rock stars and songwriters." 

 

Performance Photos

All photos taken by Sasa Tkalcan/Helsinki Festival

Publicity Photos

All photos by Henry Diltz

All Photos by RockStars and Babies 

The Cake and the Rain Photos

The following photos are to be used solely for the promotion of Jimmy Webb's The Cake and the Rain. No other permission is granted. Click on the photos below to view larger. 

The Cake and the Rain Jacket

Jimmy Webb Shelby