MTV used to play music. Shocking as that may sound it is true. When they were not playing music videos, they were often showing documentaries about music. One day, around the time R.E.M.’s Out of Time album came out, they played a documentary on the band from Athens. During the video, Peter Buck talked about how one night Michael Stipe did karaoke in some bar and chose some old Jimmy Webb songs. Then they cut to them singing Wichita Lineman and Galveston. Instantly, I knew these were great songs. My mom comes to my room and asks if R.E.M. is covering Glen Campbell. I respond that they are covering Jimmy Webb. She informs me those are Glen Campbell songs.
Of course, Jimmy Webb wrote the songs, but Campbell did indeed make those songs his. I became a fan of both.
Campbell is an underrated interpreter of songs. Many pop artists today might sing (or auto tune) other people’s songs, but few interpret them. They just go for the sound. Campbell did so much more with other people songs. If you have not heard Galveston in a while, go take a listen. He took what could have been a political anti-war song and made it a song that just about a soldier that misses his girl. No matter what side you took when the song came out (the Vietnam era), Campbell’s soulful interpretation made the song just about love.