Friday, November 2, 2012

Top 10: Glen Campbell songs

In case you missed my Glen Campbell piece that ran Thursday, or, like me, just can't get enough of the country-pop icon, here's a list of the singer's greatest songs. 

Campbell's "Goodbye Tour," which ends this month, comes to the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota on Sunday.

1. "Galveston"
Although written (by Jimmy Webb) about a soldier serving in the Spanish-American War, the song struck a nerve when it was released during the conflict in Vietnam. In 2005, Campbell agreed with me that it could also be sung from the perspective of a soldier in Iraq. I'm partial to the slower version Campbell has favored in recent years. 

2. "Rhinestone Cowboy"

His signature song, it contains poignant lines about life in the spotlight and soaring, sing along chorus.

3. "Gentle On My Mind"

Written by John Hartford the song has become one of the most recorded titles in popular music, thanks, in large part, to Campbell's definitive version.

4. "Wichita Lineman" 

5. "By The Time I Get To Phoenix"
These gems written by Webb feature mature lyrics brought to life by Campbell's sonorous voice and carried by gorgeous melodies and arrangements owing equal parts to pop and country.

6. "A Better Place"

An autobiographical beauty, which Campbell co-wrote with producer Julian Raymond for last year's "Ghost on the Canvas" album, the song acknowledges the singer's current battle with memory loss as well as his past struggles with alcohol and drug abuse. But its an overriding sentiment of hope, and gratitude, is what carries the song, making it a pop masterwork as touching as anything the legend has ever recorded.

7. "Country Boy (You Got Your Feet In L.A.)"

The first track from the 1975 "The Rhinestone Cowboy" album is also about life in the limelight, with a homesick Campbell, an Arkansas native, trying to make sense of stardom in the big city.

8. "These Days"

A Jackson Browne song about regret, perhaps the greatest song ever about regret, had been famously covered by Nico (1967) and Gregg Allman (1973) before Campbell's sensitive reading came out in 2008. While owing to the arrangement by Allman, Campbell's version still sounds very much like his own personal meditation on regret.

9. "Southern Nights" 

Master New Orleans singer/songwriter Allen Toussaint's homage to backwoods Louisiana partying gets a winning country/pop makeover. 

10. "Guess I'm Dumb"

Campbell's stint with the Beach Boys started when he was hired by band leader Brian Wilson to play on five tracks that formed the nucleus of "Pet Sounds." Campbell also toured with the band.  The story goes that Wilson gave this gorgeous song to Campbell as a present for filling in for him. Campbell performs it brilliantly, showing a star in the making. 

—Publicity photo of Glen Campbell courtesy of the Van Wezel Perfroming Arts Hall.

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