Throughout Glen Campbell’s recording career, he was able to chart successful courses through pop, country, and Gospel music. Along the way, he developed a reputation as one of the most respected musicians ever, playing on many of the biggest pop hits of the ’60s as part of the Wrecking Crew. It might be a little cliched to say, but Glen Campbell was a musician’s musician, without a doubt.
When looking back on the life and career of Glen Campbell, it’s hard to ignore his late ’60s singles for Capitol Records — with good reason. They stand as undeniable classics today, just as they did upon their release. But the singer continued to create music that was vital and fresh all the way to the final album of his career, the 2017 release Adios.
Here are 10 Glen Campbell songs that are sure to garner some airplay and attention not just over the next few days, but forever.
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10. Glen Campbell – “Bonaparte’s Retreat”
His 1974 cover of a Pee Wee King chestnut might not register as one of his best-known moments, but it remained a live highlight of his stage show throughout the years. Campbell gave the song a bouncy arrangement that also served as a reminder of just what a fine instrumentalist he was, having played on hits by artists such as Frank Sinatra, The Beach Boys, Merle Haggard, and Kenny Rogers and the First Edition.
9. Glen Campbell – “Faithless Love”
So much attention is given to Campbell’s work on Capitol Records, and deservedly so. But the singer also racked up some hits during later stints on Atlantic and MCA Nashville. In 1984, he took this J.D. Souther standard all the way to the Hot Country Songs top 10.
8. Glen Campbell – “Gentle On My Mind”
The song that became an early signature song for Campbell also put the career of songwriter John Hartford on the map. Actually, Campbell had heard Hartford’s version and was a fan of the song from the start. Fans will remember the song as being the focal point of his 1969-1972 CBS television series Glen Campbell’s Goodtime Hour.
7. Glen Campbell – “Still Within The Sound Of My Voice”
Easily the best single of Campbell’s later work in Nashville, this late ’80s top 10 definitely had an air of familiarity to it. The song’s arrangement had that same dramatic sound as many of his finest works, and the writer of the song was none other than Jimmy Webb – who was Campbell’s go-to writer throughout his career.
6. Glen Campbell – “Galveston”
A massive hit for the singer in the spring of 1969 – right in the height of the Vietnam era. Webb’s lyrics chronicled a man who was fighting overseas, with those who were important to him on his mind. Interestingly enough, Campbell wasn’t the first to perform it. That distinction went to Hawaiian singer Don Ho.
5. Glen Campbell – “By The Time I Get To Phoenix”
A double Grammy winner for Campbell in 1968, this song – and its Al De Lory production style – might very well be the best example of the Glen Campbell sound. The lyrics – again from Webb – speak of a man who has decided to make a painful break from his lover, though he knows it’s the last thing she is going to expect from him.
4. Glen Campbell – “I’m Not Gonna Miss You”
As he waged his battle with Alzheimer’s, Campbell never gave up his artistic spirit. He wrote this song after a conversation about his disease with producer Julian Raymond, where he lamented that he didn’t understand the fuss that people were making over his diagnosis. After all, he reasoned, he wasn’t going to miss anyone. The Grammy-winning song became his biggest country hit since the late ’80s in 2014, and also served as the musical centerpiece for the I’ll Be Me documentary
3. Glen Campbell – “Wichita Lineman”
The team of Campbell and Webb mined musical gold in 1968 with the release of this song that was inspired by Webb driving through Oklahoma in a region with many telephone poles, when he noticed one worker atop one of the poles. The song became one of the biggest musical hits of 1968 – in any format, and also came during a time when Campbell’s career was white-hot, as he had just collected the CMA Award for Male Vocalist and Entertainer of the Year at the organization’s second annual ceremony.
2. Glen Campbell – “Southern Nights”
While Allen Toussaint wrote the song about his memories of trips to rural Louisiana, Campbell instantly thought of his own roots, growing up in Delight, Arkansas. Campbell’s version included one of the most unforgettable melodies in country or pop history, complete with a guitar riff that the singer learned from friend Jerry Reed.
1. Glen Campbell – “Rhinestone Cowboy”
Admittedly, the period between the cancellation of the Goodtime Hour and 1975 wasn’t the most fruitful for Campbell from a commercial standpoint. That all changed when the singer heard a version of this song about a man with big musical dreams, as recorded by the writer, Larry Weiss. He learned the song, then went for a tour run through Australia, came back and met with Capitol execs to listen to songs, and one that they suggested – without even knowing he already knew it – was this one. It became his first country chart-topper in six years, and first to top the Hot 100 – becoming a classic in the process.