Thursday, March 26, 2020
– "Wichita Lineman" and "Make the World Go Away" were named to the National Recoding Registry of the Library of Congress this week.
They were among 25 recordings that are now part of the Registry with other choices being Dr. Dre's "The Chronic" to New York Giants' broadcaster Russ Hodges call of Bobby Thompson's home run, which catapulted the New York Giants to a win over the Brooklyn Dodgers and into the World Series.
"Wichita Lineman" was written by Jimmy Webb and was a huge hit for Glen Campbell. Hank Cochran penned "Make the World Go Away," which was a hit for Eddy Arnold. While recorded by many others, the Campbell and Arnold versions were the ones that made the list.
"I'm humbled and, at the same time for Glen, I am extremely proud," said Webb. "I wish there was some way I could reach him to say, 'Glen, you know they're doing this. They are putting our music in a vault inside a mountain. It will be preserved for all time."
The honor was announced by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden who inducted the recording along with two dozen others in the 2019 class of audio treasures worthy of preservation because of their cultural, historic and aesthetic importance to the nation's recorded sound heritage.
Each year, the National Recording Registry chooses recordings showcasing the range and diversity of American recorded sound heritage in order to increase preservation awareness. The diversity of nominations received highlights the richness of the nation's audio legacy and underscores the importance of assuring the long-term preservation of that legacy for future generations.
"'Wichita Lineman' is the ultimate expression of the musical and spiritual bond between my husband Glen and his songwriting soul mate Jimmy Webb," said Kim Campbell, Campbell's widow. "Despite 'Wichita Lineman' being such an important song for Glen it was also one of his favorites, and I know he'd be so thrilled and honored to have his original recording preserved in the Library of Congress."
Written by Webb in 1968, "Wichita Lineman" was the title track of Campbell's 12th album which was released by Capitol Records in November 1968 as the singer and musician was becoming a television star, film actor and crossover sensation. Following the success Campbell experienced as a result of having a hit with Webb's "By The Time I Get To Phoenix," which was released the year prior and garnered two GRAMMY Awards, Campbell asked the songwriter to write another geographical song as a follow up to "Phoenix."
Webb thought back to an indelible image he had etched in his memory that he once saw while driving through rural Oklahoma of a solitary lineman working on a telephone pole in an endless line of poles and the loneliness and longing that a man like that might feel. On deadline to deliver the song, Webb turned in a version that he felt was unfinished, warning producer and arranger Al De Lory that he needed to add a third verse. Unbeknownst to him, Campbell, who said he cried upon hearing it because he was homesick, recorded it immediately, adding a bass guitar interlude to complete the song. Webb initially assumed that Campbell didn't like the song since he hadn't received any feedback so was surprised to find out from Campbell when he ran into him several weeks later that he had recorded it.
Recorded with the legendary Los Angeles studios musicians The Wrecking Crew (Al Casey, James Burton, Carol Kaye, Don Bagley, Jim Gordon and Al De Lory), the multimillion-selling "Wichita Lineman" was a huge crossover hit for Campbell that went to number three on the pop chart and topped the country and adult contemporary charts.
The song won a GRAMMY Award for Best Engineered Recording (Non-Classical) for engineers Hugh Davies and Joe Polito, and also earned several GRAMMY nominations including Record of the Year and Best Male Contemporary Pop Vocal Performance. It was nominated for Single of the Year at the Academy of Country Music Award and stayed atop the country music charts for 20 weeks where it was the year's top release in the genre. "Wichita Lineman" helped propel the album of the same name to multi-platinum status selling more than 2 million copies and becoming Campbell's first number one album where it stayed on the pop chart for five weeks.
"Make the World Go Away" become a Top 40 popular success three times: for Timi Yuro (during 1963), for Eddy Arnold (1965), and for the brother-sister duo Donny and Marie Osmond (1975). Ray Price recorded the original version in 1963.
Cochran penned the song in 1963 reportedly while on a date at a movie theater in 1960 when the film inspired him. He exited the theater and had the song ritten 15 minutes later by the time he got home home.
Price went to number two on the Billboard country charts in 1963. Arnold made the song his big hit the next year.
The musicians on the Arnold session were Grady Martin, Velma Smith (guitars), Henry Strzelecki (bass), Jerry Carrigan (drums), Floyd Cramer (piano), Bill Walker (vibes), Harvey Wolfe (cello), Pamela Goldsmith, Ruby Ann Story (violas), Brenton Banks, Solie Fott, Lillian Hunt, Martin Kathan, Shelly Kurland (violins), and the Anita Kerr Singers (vocal chorus).