Jimmy Webb, Musical Instrument Museum, 2/1/13
http://www.jimmywebb.com Courtesy photo courtesy Jimmy Webb
Jimmy Webb @ Musical Instrument Museum|2/1/13
It's always interesting hearing an alternate version of a popular song. That's one of the appeals of live music. But that version is especially worthwhile when it's the original version by the original artist.
Such is the case at a Jimmy Webb concert. A prolific songwriter, Webb amassed an array of hits in the 1960s and 1970s--all performed by other artists. Tonight at the Musical Instrument Museum Webb demonstrated how those hit songs were intended to sound before each recording artist put his or her own touch on it--many earning Grammy Awards.
Perhaps best known among the Webb-song hit makers is Phoenix's Glen Campbell, and Webb praised him several times during the evening.
"How lucky I was to have him interpret my music," he said. Three songs Campbell scored hits with were performed--each to rousing applause--including "Galveston," "Wichita Lineman," and "By The Time I Get To Phoenix." Under Webb's deft touch at the piano these songs were "transformed" from the radio-friendly versions to the emotional powerhouses they were originally imagined as.
"Galveston" ebbed and flowed like the bay's tides, capturing all the original longing of the displaced Vietnam vet central to the story, while "Wichita Lineman" carried that everyday housewife longing to new levels of desperation and desire, the tinkling keyboards sounding like a lonesome telegraph line. "By The Time I Ger to Phoenix," carried all the heartache of separation, right down to the minor key phone ringing that went forever unanswered.
Between songs Webb entertained the sold out crowd with assorted tales of career development, unlikely success, debauchery, meeting then-President Bill Clinton, and other oddities that cemented relationships with many of the artists he worked with and led to in some cases song formation. Webb, for example, filled in for Johnny Cash at a Farm Aid concert, singing Cash's part of "Highwayman," this performance's opening number.