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"Wichita Lineman"

"Wichita Lineman" single cover
Single by Glen Campbell
from the album Wichita Lineman
B-side "Fate of Man"
Released October 1968
Format 7" vinyl
Genre Country
Length 3:05
Label Capitol 2302
Writer(s) Jimmy Webb
Producer Al DeLory
Glen Campbell singles chronology
"St. Louis Blues"
(1968)
"Wichita Lineman"
(1968)
"Mornin' Glory"
(1968)

"Wichita Lineman" is a popular song written by Jimmy Webb in 1968, first recorded by Glen Campbell and widely covered by other artists. Campbell's version, which appeared on his 1968 album of the same name, reached #3 on the U.S. pop chart, remaining in the Top 100 for 15 weeks. In addition, the song also topped the American country music chart for two weeks, and the adult contemporary chart for six weeks. It was certified gold by the RIAA in January 1969.[1] In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time" ranked "Wichita Lineman" at #192. It has been referred to as 'the first existential country song'.[2]

Webb was inspired to write the lyrics when he saw a solitary lineman in rural northern Oklahoma.[3] The lyric describes the longing that a lonely telephone or electric power lineman feels for an absent lover who he imagines he can hear "singing in the wire" that he is working on. Such a sonic vibration is commonly induced by wind blowing across small conductors. There is uncertainty as to which "Wichita" is intended; Wichita, Kansas, Wichita County, Kansas (which is over 250 road miles away), Wichita Falls, Texas, and Wichita County, Texas have all been suggested as possibilities. In his Wichita, Kansas concert, Glen Campbell announced that the song referred to Wichita County, in western Kansas.[citation needed]

Contents

Arrangement

In the first recording, by Glen Campbell, a notable feature of Al de Lory's orchestral arrangement is that the violins and a Gulbransen Synthesizer mimic the sounds that a lineman might hear when attaching a telephone earpiece to a long stretch of raw telephone or telegraph line, i.e. without typical line equalisation and filtering. One would be aware of high-frequency tones fading in and out, caused by the accidental rectification (the rusty bolt effect) of heterodynes between many radio stations (the violins play this sound); and occasional snatches of Morse Code from radio amateurs or utility stations (this is heard after the line of lyric, "is still on the line"). Heterodynes are also referenced in the lyric, "I can hear you through the whine".[citation needed]

The bass solo was played by Campbell himself on a Danelectro six-string bass borrowed from friend and session bassist Carol Kaye; the pulsing effect is tremolo from a Fender amplifier. On a 1969 appearance on the Smothers Brothers TV show, Campbell played the solo on a Fender Bass VI six-string bass guitar.[citation needed]

Covers

"Wichita Lineman" has been recorded by a diverse range of artists, Performers have included:

The title was also sung as a riff during the short film "Days of Our Years" on the comedy show Mystery Science Theater 3000. The song was spoofed in a Pinky and the Brain sketch on Animaniacs with the line "I am a telephone repairman from this area"

Chart performance

Chart (1968) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles 1
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 3
U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks 1
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 1
Canadian RPM Top Singles 1
U.K. Singles Chart 7
Preceded by
"Born to Be With You"
by Sonny James
Billboard Hot Country Singles
number-one single

December 21-December 28, 1968
Succeeded by
"Daddy Sang Bass"
by Johnny Cash
Preceded by
"I Take a Lot of Pride in What I Am"
by Merle Haggard
RPM Country Tracks
number-one single

January 13-January 20, 1969
Succeeded by
"I Take a Lot of Pride in What I Am"
by Merle Haggard

References

  1. ^ RIAA searchable database
  2. ^ Dylan Jones: If You Ask Me
  3. ^ The Greatest Songs Ever! Wichita Lineman Article on Blender :: The Ultimate Guide to Music and More
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ http://space.troo.net/foryourconsideration/03_landfacts_manfieldline.mp3
  • The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 6th Edition, 1996

External links








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