Monday, June 5, 2017

Music: A chat with Jimmy Webb

An Evening With Jimmy Webb is at the Heath Ledger Theatre on Saturday July 1.  We had a great chat on the phone from his place on Long Island as he prepared for the tour.

The legendary American songwriter Jimmy Webb is disarmingly frank about the secret of his current show’s appeal: “It’s a name-dropping fest!”

Webb won his first Grammy 50 years ago, for Up, Up and Away, and has since collected countless platinum and gold records.

By the 1970s, those hits – By the Time I Get to Phoenix, Wichita Lineman, All I Know, the gigantic MacArthur Park, Didn’t We? (one of four of his songs  Frank Sinatra recorded), The Highwayman – and the status of his “clients”, music royalty like Linda Ronstadt, Art Garfunkel, Joe Cocker, Richard Harris and, of course, Glen Campbell – made Webb, unique among his contemporaries, a major star for his songs alone.
Taking up the mantle of interpreting his own songs has been a matter of necessity as much as choice for Webb: sadly, he’s running out of his voices.

“They were the finest artists,” he said.

“They had the most beautiful voices in the world.

“It’s very painful to think about, as one by one these voices are stilled.

“It leaves me to sing.

“I may not be the best – I couldn’t tie Glenn’s shoes as a singer, but I learnt a lot from him, a little bit has rubbed off from everybody I worked with.

“So I go out with my limited resources.

“But can I pull off a convincing Wichita Lineman, or hit the high note at the end of MacArthur Park?

“Well, yes, I can!”
“That’s the best part of life for me, performing – not only taking the fans back to special times in their lives, but getting to go out after the show, meet everyone I possibly can, sign memorabilia, do photos.

“I don’t draw the line between me and the fans, which sometimes drives security, and my wife, a little bit crazy.

“But I absolutely love it.

Read the full interview in The West Australian 

And let's sing another Jimmy Webb song, boys…

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