Sunday, September 08, 2019
When I was very young, leaving my life in the Albuquerque area where I had some close friends, I was driving along a New Mexico highway toward a new life in Kansas City. On my car’s radio came a song that seemed to strike to a great loneliness in my soul, and that song never has left my mind. It’s “Wichita Lineman”, as sung by Glen Campbell. Somehow, in melody, lyrics, and Glen’s way of expressing, the song’s slow tempo and lyrics captured my still-longing for a past done, and at the time, being exchanged for a future unknown.
Popular music changed over time. I’ve not heard “Wichita Lineman” for years, but it pops into my head occasionally and I feel again its wistfulness. A few of its lyrics remain in my memory, including the first line, “I am a lineman for the county….”, and the couple of summit lines that go something like this, “I want you more than need you, and I need you for a long time.”
There’s a recent article, written by Dylan Jones and entitled, “Why ‘Wichita Lineman’ contains the greatest musical couplet ever written. It’s extracted from his new book, “The Wichita Lineman.” The book cover self-describes as, “Searching in the sun for the world’s greatest unfinished song.”
Jones has selected these unforgettable lines (and corrected my faulty memory), “I want you more than need you, and I want you for all time.” He asserts that they represent very abstract concepts that just are jammed together–a strange combination of feelings that try to express the inexpressible. Maybe he’s correct.
He interviewed Jimmy Webb, the song’s author, who wrote “Wichita Lineman” when he was 21 years old. Webb says that while writing it dawned on him that as a songwriter he’s a conduit for all kinds of emotions. He describes a songwriter as “almost a trader in feelings”, and that his writing comes from “where he lives”, in the emotional wreckage of life.
This is a powerful article for anybody who in the past or now connects with “The Wichita Lineman”. It’s also interesting, worthwhile reading related to the impact of music on listeners.
Recently, a reader who saw the video of me driving a horse with trotting hoof beats as its main sound track wrote, noting that those hoof beats were reminders of why and how much music through the ages has been written in four beats. This association is true, for while driving and listening to those hoof beats, there’s always accompanying music running through my head. Most recently, it’s been “Fascinating Rhythm”, which perfectly blends with trotting beats. That reader’s comment was a great reminder that we’re all musical creatures.
Here’s a link to the article: https://lithub.com/why-wichita-lineman-contains-the-greatest-musical-couplet-ever-written/
Dear Friends: If “Wichita Lineman” is meaningful for you, please share with me. Diana