10 Iconic Glen Campbell Songs
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Glen Campbell is an American original, and his story is just as legendary as his top songs. Campbell’s inspirational rags to riches story — from his troubled addiction to personal redemption — was shared with the world. While he was on our radios every day and in our living rooms each week, he was making the soundtrack to our lives with many more than these 10 Iconic Glen Campbell Songs.
The “Rhinestone Cowboy” made such an impact that he topped all the major charts, won audiences from all walks of life and conquered the movies, and his television show, The Glen Cambpell Goodtime Hour, helped launch the careers of many musicians, including Anne Murray and Jerry Reed.
Taste of Country honors this Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award Winner, Oscar nominee and Country Music Hall of Famer with a sampling of his greatest hits. From the legendary Jimmy Webb compositions like “Galveston” and “Wichita Lineman” to his TV and movie hits like “True Grit” and “Gentle on My Mind,” these are the 10 best Glen Campbell songs.
Glen Campbell died on August 8, 2017. He was 81.
Glen Campbell and his music were featured in several films throughout the ’70s and ’80s, including “Everything a Man Could Ever Need” from Norwood, “Another Fine Mess” from The End and “Any Which Way You Can” from the movie starring Clint Eastwood. But True Grit (1969) with John Wayne stands out as one of his most memorable roles. John Wayne won an Academy Award, while this entry on the 10 Iconic Glen Campbell Songs list earned nominations from the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes.
“I’m Not Gonna Miss You”
Campbell’s final song merits inclusion on this list of his top songs. In fact, some may argue it’s his best. “I’m Not Gonna Miss” earned an Oscar nomination in 2015, but more importantly, it brought attention to Alzheimer’s in a way no song had before. The powerful song and its equally stirring music video remind us how beautiful this man once was. Sadly, it’s also a reminder of how much this terrible disease takes away.
Legendary songwriter Jimmy Webb provided Campbell some of his biggest hits like “Wichita Lineman,” “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Still Within the Sound of My Voice,” and “Honey Come Back.” It’s no wonder that Campbell often mentioned in concert that if it weren’t for Webb, people wouldn’t have known who he was. Webb was also responsible for writing this No. 1 hit — No. 8 on the 10 Iconic Glen Campbell Songs list. “Galveston” is the story of a soldier thinking of his love back in his hometown while preparing to go to battle.
“Try a Little Kindness”
Unlike many of his country music peers, Glen Campbell recorded several of his hits outside of Nashville. “Try a Little Kindness” was another multi-genre hit that was recorded at the Capitol Recording Studio in Hollywood. Campbell moved to Los Angeles in the late ’50s to be a studio musician. After appearing on the Champs instrumental recording of “Tequila,” he became one of the most in-demand session guitar players. This song is a good example of his diverse background and influences coming together to make an inspirational hit that lands on our list.
Songwriter Jimmy Webb penned this classic after a long roadtrip visiting family in Oklahoma. In an interview with the Dallas Observer, Jimmy said, “I was drivin’ along there, just blinkin’ and tryin’ to stay awake, and all of a sudden there was somebody on top of one of those telephone poles — out of thousands of telephone poles, there’s one that has a guy on it, and he had one of those little telephones hooked into the wires. I could see him on top of this pole talkin’ or listenin’ or doin’ somethin’ with this telephone. For some reason, the starkness of the image stayed with me like photography.” “Wichita Lineman” was the result of Webb trying to imagine what the lineman might have been thinking.
Five years after his television show went off the air and nine years after winning Entertainer of the Year at the CMAs, Campbell was still producing major crossover hits. “Southern Nights” soared to No. 1 in 1977, telling the story of growing up in the south. Songwriter Allen Toussaint was reminiscing of his Louisiana upbringing, and Campbell incorporated his memories of growing up in Delight, Ark. The infectious guitar melody made this an instantly recognizable hit and lands solidly on our list of the best Glen Campbell songs.
“The Hand That Rocks the Cradle” (With Steve Wariner)
In 1987, Campbell was 51 and was already considered a legend in the entertainment industry. Campbell placed his first song on the Country Singles Chart in 1962, and continued to land songs on the radio charts until the early ’90s. “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle” is one of his latter hits that stands high and tall above the rest. A duet with Steve Wariner, the song is an emotional heartfelt genuine tribute to mothers. This song represents the greatness of country music storytelling, and although it didn’t cross over like many of his other singles, we feel its impact and lyrics justify its placement on our list of the best Glen Campbell songs.
“Gentle on My Mind”
“Gentle on My Mind” dominated the 1968 Grammy Awards. Songwriter John Hartford won a Grammy for his own version of the song in the Best Folk Performance category. Then, the song earned Single, Song and Best Male Vocal Performance thanks to the hit recording by Campbell. The song was made even more popular when its banjo driven arrangement was heard as the opening to his television show, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, from 1969 to 1972. Ironically, this massive hit was only a modest charting single, peaking at No. 30 on the Billboard Country Singles chart. It lands at No. 6 on our list.
“By the Time I Get to Phoenix”
This is the third Jimmy Webb composition to appear on our list of the Top 10 Glen Cambpell songs. “By the Time Get to Phoenix” was penned by Webb after a breakup. The song tells the story of a man’s decision to leave a relationship as he hits the road after leaving a goodbye note: “by the time I get to Phoenix, she’ll be rising. By the time I make Albuquerque she’ll be working, and by the time I make Oklahoma she’ll be sleepin’.” The song soared to No. 2 and established Campbell as a major star with his highest charting single at that time. The following year he’d be named the CMA’s Entertainer of the Year.
“Rhinestone Cowboy” was penned and originally recorded by Larry Weiss, who states that the song was written about the spirit of a bunch of new artists on Broadway (where he started out), who all had dreams of making it big. Weiss’ version of the song failed to make an impact on radio, but it caught the attention of Campbell, who heard one of the rare spins it received. Attracted to the tale of a country boy trying to make it in the city, Campbell got immediate approval from Capitol Records to cut his own version. The gem landed at No. 1 for 3 weeks on the country charts on its way to becoming Billboard’s No. 1 Country Single of 1975 and Campbell’s No. 1 song on this Glen Campbell songs list.