The complete songwriting list of ‘Wichita Lineman’ Glen Campbell
A 55-year recording session cat posthumously nominated in 2017 for a Grammy Award for Best American Roots Performance for the autobiographical “Arkansas Farmboy” off the Carl Jackson-produced Adiós, proud Arkansan Glen Campbell was 24 years old when he pulled up stakes for the City of Angels after playing in his uncle’s outfit the Dick Bills Band and fronting the Western Wranglers in low-paying dive bar gigs around the Southwest. Scoring a songwriting deal with American Music Publishing and co-writing his debut Billboard charting single — “Turn Around, Look at Me” — by July 1961 he was harmonizing on Rick Nelson hit singles like “Everlovin’”, “A Wonder like You,” “Young World,” and “It’s Up to You.” Campbell eventually contributed rhythm guitar alongside Master of Telecaster James Burton to scores of Nelson recording sessions over the next six years.
Campbell’s stature rose among L.A. insiders when he joined the illustrious ranks of the Wrecking Crew in the mid-’60s, cutting Elvis Presley’s ”What’d I Say” for the Viva Las Vegas soundtrack, the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, Frank Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night,” and the Monkees’ “Mary, Mary” among bucket loads of other ubiquitous ’60s AM radio hits.
After Brian Wilson endured a nervous breakdown and refocused his energy on studio production, Campbell replaced him on live dates until the microphone-adjusting Bruce “Disney Girls” Johnston was permanently drafted. Tracked during a Today! session in October 1964 at Western Recorders, the Wilson co-composed and produced “Guess I’m Dumb” was given to Campbell as a token of gratitude according to Keith Badman’s The Beach Boys: The Definitive Diary of America’s Greatest Band, on Stage and in the Studio. Unleashed as an A-side featuring Brian, youngest brother Carl Wilson, and the Honeys on backing vocals, the gorgeously orchestrated sunshine pop ballad shockingly failed to muster any chart impact.
Doing sessions for other artists day and night, the capo-endorsing guitarist somehow waxed solo material, writing 28 assorted album tracks and singles. Finally, in 1967 he hit pay dirt with producer Al DeLory on evocative, cinematic arrangements of John Hartford’s “Gentle on My Mind” and Jimmy Webb’s “By the Time I Get to Phoenix.” The latter contributed to Campbell’s discography for the next 50 years — “Christiaan No” from 1976’s Bloodline screams rediscovery time. Twenty-tens country pop radio confetti by Luke Bryan, Keith Urban, Brad Paisley, and Taylor Swift can be traced back to Campbell’s streak of crossover hits in the late ‘60s.
Hollywood producer Hal Wallis extended a tantalizing offer to costar in the lavishly budgeted Paramount adaptation of Charles Portis’s novel True Grit. Portraying an inexperienced, cocky, but endearing Texas Ranger butting heads with John Wayne in the Oscar-winning western, as well as landing his own top-rated variety series, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, capped off the busiest and most successful decade of the performer’s career.
Campbell A-sides tended to place prominently on the country charts while eschewing crossover territory as the ’70s and ’80s came and went, except for the comeback singles “Rhinestone Cowboy”, “Country Boy (You Got Your Feet in L.A.)”, and “Southern Nights.” After years of hard living fueled by cocaine, alcohol, and fellow rabble-rouser Tanya Tucker, a conversion to Christianity found the Django Reinhardt-inspired guitarist distributing a string of fan-pleasing gospel albums beginning with No More Night , containing Campbell’s sole writing credit of the ‘80s — “Trust in God and Do the Right.”
Creatively speaking, the ’90s and much of the ’00s were barren, wilderness years. Radio stopped caring after 1989’s Top Ten “She’s Gone, Gone, Gone,” produced by Jimmy Bowen. Record labels signing Campbell had limited clout. Spending every waking hour on a golf course near his Phoenix, Arizona, home also placed his career on the back burner. While touring and investments kept the singer wealthy, the records that he chose to tackle were dictated by sterile, tin ear Nashville producers who were incapable of coaxing Campbell back towards the style that made him a household name.
Los Angeles-based producer Julian Raymond and engineer Howard Willing came to their hero’s rescue in 2008 with a covers album exploring modern pop and rock songs straightforwardly annointed Meet Glen Campbell. Who would have believed Campbell was capable of covering Foo Fighters and Green Day? Yet he pulled it off admirably. A sleeper word-of-mouth seller, Meet Glen Campbell was the artist’s most critically-acclaimed album in over 30 years and engendered him with a younger demographic.
In a brief email exchange with this writer, Raymond explained that he became a Campbell fan through his “parents playing Glen’s records non-stop. I proposed the idea for Meet Glen Campbell to Capitol Records and then got to meet and propose the plan to Glen personally. He agreed and the rest is history…”
The critical reevaluation of Campbell’s career showed no signs of abating with the 2011 follow-up, Ghost on the Canvas, spearheaded by the same team but instead featuring mostly original songs co-written by the singer. Raymond deserves accolades for inspiring Campbell to co-write 10 more songs, as he had not contributed any sustaining self-penned material since the album cuts found on Galveston in 1969 — “If This Is Love”, “Friends”, and “Every Time I Itch I Wind Up Scratchin’ You” — “Trust in God and Do the Right” from 1985 appears to be an anomaly. Distributed on Surfdog Records, Ghost on the Canvas debuted on Billboard at No. 6 C&W and No. 24 POP, Campbell’s highest charting album since Southern Nights 34 years earlier.
Two months prior to Ghost on the Canvas’s launch, Campbell’s family publicly announced a debilitating Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Chronicled in director James Keach’s unsettling, albeit hopeful I’ll Be Me Oscar-nominated documentary, the six-year ordeal criminally plundered Campbell’s singing and guitar-playing faculties over the course of the 137-date Good Times — The Final Farewell Tour but did not wipe out his keen sense of humor nor appreciation for fellow humanity. In 1965’s “Less of Me,” Campbell’s second most enduring of 36 released compositions after debut Billboard charting single “Turn Around, Look at Me,” the Wichita Lineman and self-effacing song doctor unequivocally expressed his lifelong principle, “Let me be a little kinder, let me be a little blinder…let me be when I am weary just a little bit more cheery…think a little more of others and a little less of me.”
Songs Written by Glen Campbell
- “Death Valley” [A-side, May 1, 1961]
- “When Am I Gonna Be Loved” [recorded by future Dallas soap opera star Dack Rambo and his identical twin Dirk in 1961 as the B-side of their “Why’d You Leave, Genevieve,” and produced by Jerry Fuller; uncertain if Campbell ever cut a solo version; research obtained from Dee Zink of “Glen Campbell Forums on the Net”]
- “Turn Around, Look at Me” [No. 62 POP, No. 15 AC, co-written with Jerry Capehart, October 1961; Vintage 45 single pressings on Crest Records, AllMusic.com, and performing rights organization BMI list Campbell’s early manager Capehart as the sole writer of Campbell’s first charting Billboard single. But in a 1977 live performance at the Royal Festival Hall in London, Campbell started the song by saying, “I wrote this song in 1961 with a friend of mine…” According to segments of Campbell’s 1994 autobiography Rhinestone Cowboy posted by Dee Zink on Glen Campbell Forums on the Net, “I’ve never received any songwriting royalties due me for that hit…the person who cheated me of my royalties is probably broke by now or has found a way to hide his money. He knows who he is and knows that I know what he did to me.” In a 1999 interview with Gary James of Classic Bands, Campbell was asked point blank why he did not name the person. Campbell replied, “He came out of the woodwork and said I changed a chord in it. I just didn’t want to name names…he took the award for writing half of “Summertime Blues” with Eddie Cochran. I’m sure he wrote half of that, too. It was like ‘Turn Around, Look at Me’” (Capehart is indeed listed as the co-writer of “Summertime Blues). Early Cochran collaborator Eddie “Ghetto Baby” Daniels insisted in a 2016 LA Weekly interview that “I signed with Jerry Capehart as a songwriter at American Music — he was a cheating dog, man.” Capehart succumbed to brain cancer in Nashville in June 1998 at age 69, where he had gone to pitch an inauspicious song called “Summertime Blues No. 2”].
- “Little Lonely” [No. 112 POP, co-written with Jerry Naylor, lead singer of the Crickets; A-side October 1961 for Chad Allen; identification graciously supplied by “Gorky”]
- “The Miracle of Love” [co-written with Jerry Capehart; A-side, February 10, 1962]
6. “One Hundred Miles Away from Home” [co-written with Jerry Capehart and Nick Venet; Big Bluegrass Special, November 12, 1962]
7. “How Do I Tell My Heart Not to Break” [co-written with Jerry Capehart; B-side of “Too Late to Worry — Too Blue to Cry,” on accompanying Too Late to Worry — Too Blue to Cry album, March 1963]
8. “Here I Am” [co-written with Mark Douglas; A-side, Too Late to Worry — Too Blue to Cry]
9. “Same Old Places” [B-side of “As Far As I’m Concerned,” September 14, 1963]
10. “Through the Eyes of a Child” [co-written with Jerry Capehart; B-side of “Let Me Tell You ‘Bout Mary,” April 27, 1964]
11. “12-String Special” [Instrumental; The Astounding 12-String Guitar of Glen Campbell, April 1964]
12. “Bull Durham” [Instrumental; The Astounding 12-String Guitar of Glen Campbell]
13. “Spanish Shades” [Instrumental; B-side of “The Universal Soldier,” The Big Bad Rock Guitar of Glen Campbell, September 1965]
14. “Spring Mist” [Instrumental; The Big Bad Rock Guitar of Glen Campbell]
16. “Can’t You See I’m Trying” [co-written with Jerry Fuller; B-side of “Satisfied Mind,” April 1966]
17. “Just Another Man” [co-written with Joe Allison; B-side of “Gentle on My Mind,” June 24, 1967, also on accompanying Gentle on My Mind album]
18. “Back in the Race” [co-written with Vic Dana; By the Time I Get to Phoenix, November 27, 1967]
19. “Love Is a Lonesome River” [co-written with Kella Christian; By the Time I Get to Phoenix]
20. “Kelli Hoedown” [Instrumental; B-side of “Dreams of the Everyday Housewife,” June 1968]
21. “Visions of Sugar Plums” [co-written with Jerry Fuller; A New Place in the Sun, April 1968]
22. “I Have No One to Love Me Anymore” [A New Place in the Sun]
23. “(It’s Only Your) Imagination” [Bobbie Gentry and Glen Campbell, September 1968]
24. “Fate of Man” [B-side of “Wichita Lineman;” on accompanying Wichita Lineman album, November 1968]
25. “If This Is Love” [co-written with Bill Ezell; Galveston, February 1969]
26. “Friends” [co-written with Dick Bowman; Galveston]
27. “Every Time I Itch I Wind Up Scratchin’ You” [co-written with True Grit costar Jeremy Slate; B-side of “Galveston” and on accompanying Galveston album]
28. “Trust in God and Do the Right” [from the gospel album No More Night, August 14, 1985; Campbell said in a vintage Entertainment Tonight interview that he wrote the song, although the vinyl label lists no writer and credits Campbell as arranger only. “Trust in God and Do the Right” was in fact published by Glen Campbell Music. Detective work courtesy of Kevin Lemons and the Friends Of Glen — The Glen Campbell Fan Forum On Facebook!]
29. “A Better Place” [co-written with Julian Raymond; Ghost on the Canvas, August 30, 2011, Surfdog Records]
30. “A Thousand Lifetimes” [co-written with Justin Grey and Julian Raymond; Ghost on the Canvas]
31. “It’s Your Amazing Grace” [co-written with Julian Raymond; Ghost on the Canvas]
32. “Strong” [co-written with Julian Raymond; Ghost on the Canvas]
33. “There’s No Me…Without You” [co-written with Julian Raymond; Ghost on the Canvas]
34. “What I Wouldn’t Give” [co-written with Julian Raymond; See You There, August 13, 2013, Surfdog Records]
36. “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” [co-written with Julian Raymond; I’ll Be Me five-track EP, September 30, 2014, Big Machine]
37. “All I Need Is You” [co-written with Julian Raymond; I’ll Be Me soundtrack album, February 17, 2015, Big Machine]
38. “The Long Walk Home” [co-written with Julian Raymond; I’ll Be Me soundtrack album]
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