Songwriter Jimmy Webb performs Glen Campbell’s legacy Saturday at OCC
His music and lyrics have been interpreted by artists as renowned and varied as R.E.M., Linda Ronstadt, Art Garfunkel, The Supremes, Isaac Hayes and Frank Sinatra. But Jimmy Webb's most famous collaborations, and those closest to his heart, are with Glen Campbell. On Saturday night in the Grunin Center at Ocean County College, he performs the songs they rode to fame together, laced with reflections on the country superstar's legacy.
His songs are known to thousands and thousands of people who may not have realized they were listening to his influential writing.
Jimmy Webb wrote Top 10 Billboard Hits during his music career such as 'MacArthur Park' by Donna Summer and various songs for Glen Campbell.
"Jimmy Webb: The Glen Campbell Years" is the event being held Saturday night at 8 pm in the Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts at Ocean County College, where the famed writer will discuss the working relationship he had with country start Glen Campbell.
"There was so much chemistry just floating around in the air, that the sensation that something could or might happen in the next second was very tangible," said Webb.
The event is preceded Saturday by a book signing of his own memoir, 'The Cake and The Rain' at the Barnes and Noble in Brick Township.
"'The Cake and The Rain' is really a metaphor for 'The Good and The Bad'" said Webb who says it relates to the ups and downs, and good choices and not so good choices over the course of his life in music.
Webb says before their friendship took off, his first interaction with Campbell was 'a bit hairy, in that the country star didn't take too much for the songwriter's long hair which was a popular trend of the 1970's.
"I walked up to him and said 'Mr. Campbell, I'm Jimmy Webb' and he ignored me completely," said Webb.
While Campbell sat there in the room working on tuning up his guitar, Webb tried again introducing himself, and when he did the tide turned forever.
"I said 'Mr. Campbell, I'm Jimmy Webb, I wrote 'By the time I get to Phoenix', and his head snapped up and he made eye contact with me," said Webb. "He then asked, 'when are you going to get a haircut?'"
Webb and Campbell would later combine talents from that point on and put together a number of songs including five Top 10 Billboard Hits of which were the brainchild of Webb himself.
"I was always writing for Campbell," said Webb.
Webb says Campbell had a classically trained ear like no other and could often figure out the proper tune of what was being played or came up with a tune that could be introduced in a song...and it paid off.
"Together we managed to, I think, cut the first real country crossover records that were country influenced but definitely aimed at the pop market," said Webb.
He adds that it was Campbell who made a key change at the end of the mega-hit "By the time I get to Phoenix" which is what ended up making it a memorable song.
Sadly the Glen Campbell years began to fade in 2012 following his diagnoses with what is now Advanced Alzheimer's.
Webb says he wants everyone to remember his dear friend by the talents he shared with fans on stage or in the recording studio, and not by his battle with this scary and sad disease.
After years of performing on stage and playing music, Webb says, "he finally just couldn't get through a show anymore, he sort of laid it down," Webb adds, "but he was always positive...always in a good mood."
Webb says for a time, he had never seen his friend so depressed that he couldn't perform the way he used to and desired to, but he found the fight inside himself to keep going even still today where he is undergoing care at a facility in Nashville.
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