Up, up and away

My Thursday night post on Jimmy Webb prompted some wonderful messages from readers. Vanderbilt University Professor James Steiger wrote that he ” loved the plug for the WSJ too (my brother edits the paper),” and commented, “Superb!” He added:

Many people forget or never knew that *before* Glen Campbell, Johnny Rivers did “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” on his album “Changes” that Webb produced. Johnny’s version was better than Glen’s, IMO.

Tom Spaulding — touring with John Fogerty this summer and reporting from the road in Caught Up In The Fable: writes:

“Covergirl” is one of my favorite records, and Webb’s song is the best thing on it, along with Roland Salley’s (he plays bass for Chris Issak) “Killing the Blues”.
If you haven’t already, take some time to check out Webb’s book – “Tunesmith”. It’s a master class on songwriting, written for aspiring writers, but great reading for fans, too. I have purchased several copies for songwriting friends and they have all raved about it.
Things are going great out here. JF is playing to largely Mellencamp audiences and winning them over to the point of getting standing ovations after nearly every song. The effects of a set list full of hit after hit is fun to watch as the audience pauses for a second then leaps to their feet during another familiar intro…I love the power of music.

And Kevin “Hognose” O’Brien writes:

I honestly am an SF vet of Afghanistan (and of one component or other of the Army since the bleak Carter years), I honestly am an investor and businessman working today in aviation (and losing my shirt) and I honestly am a songwriter — strictly as a hobby these days.
One of the best books on songs and songwriting is by none other than the inimitable Jimmy Webb. “Tunesmith: Inside the Art of Songwriting.” The book is as well-crafted as the title suggests Webb’s songs are, and it does indeed describe a craftsmanlike approach to making a song. On Amazon, the best of his reviewers tried to match his eloquence, a tough job if you haven’t got the chords and melody to stir emotions: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0786884886/amazon0156-20/
As an aviator, of course, my favourite from the Webb oeuvre is “Up, up and away.” A jazz singer (whose name I’m shamefully blank on) just did it more than justice with the Boston Pops, singing a haunting version of the tune, which I happened to hear on Boston’s classical radio station 102.5, I believe on July 4th. The 5th Dimension version inhabits my iPod and instantly recalls me to the timeless, optimistic, wide-open moment when I, a child, first heard it on the radio. Not many of a 12 year old’s favourites stay with him into middle age, but Webb’s music and lyrics are that good.
I didn’t care for some of his songs: the bombastic “Macarthur Park” — which he shopped unsuccessfully to wholesome sixties harmony group TheAssociation before placing it with Richard Harris — leaves me cold, and I never liked “The Worst That Could Happen” by the Brooklyn Bridge,although I like knowing that group’s history (not many top ten actswith Vietnam veterans in ’em) and so hearing it usually produces a smile.
Some links that your readers might enjoy: http://www.jimmywebb.com/. His own site. Imagine my vexation to discover that he is appearing this weekend a few miles from my house — before I go overseas — and I have an unshakeable appointment to be at the other end of the state (in BDUs and patrol cap) this weekend. Arrgggh.
I can say that this is just the kind of culture that the Taliban variety of islamist despises. .So everyone should support Western Civilisation and listen to something by Jimmy today.
Kevin R.C. “Hognose” O’Brien

Thanks to all who wrote in response to the Webb post.


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