The enduring beauty of Jimmy Webb’s “Wichita Lineman” and one of the greatest musical couplets ever written
Lithub has a wonderful piece on the classic Jimmy Webb composition, "Wichita Lineman," one of the most enduring pop songs ever written. Made famous by the late Glen Campbell, the author of piece describes the song as one that "defies the injustice of repetition."
And then, there’s that amazing "I need you more than want you" couplet.
There is little ambiguity about the greatest couplet ever written. The punchline—the sucker punch—of “Wichita Lineman,” the line in the song that resonates so much, the line that contains one of the most exquisite romantic couplets in the history of song—“And I need you more than want you / and I want you for all time”—could be many people’s perfect summation of love, although some, including writer Michael Hann, think it’s something sadder and perhaps more profound. “It is need, more than want, that defines the narrator’s relationship; if they need their lover more than wanting them, then naturally they will want them for all time. The couplet encompasses the fear that those who have been in relationships do sometimes struggle with: good God, what happens to me if I am left alone?” Hann is certainly right when he says that it’s a heart-stopping line, and no matter how many hundreds of times you hear it, no matter what it means to you, it never loses its ability to shock and confound.
Read the rest here.
Here is Glen Campbell singing the track on The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour in the late 60s.
There is a reason why this song has been covered a zillion times, from REM to Kool and the Gang to Casandra Wilson.
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March 17, 2020 at 10:58AM