Before we listen to the top ten of Glen Campbell’s best songs, let us take a look at his journey to success.
The Young Glen Campbell
Glen Campbell was born in 1936, at Billstown, Arkansas. Growing up from a low-income family, Campbell picked cotton with his parents and brothers for them to have something to eat and live by. The first time he held and learned to play the basics of the guitar was at four years of age. His uncle bought the guitar and taught him how to play it. This became the beginning of Campbell falling in love with music.
When he was a teenager, Campbell performed in local nightclubs, picnics, fairs, and in church. He first joined his uncle’s band when he was seventeen.
The Beginning of His Career
When Campbell moved to Los Angeles, he worked as a musician and a songwriter. Moreover, he was also part of the band The Champs in 1960. Campbell worked with many artists, as a songwriter and a musician. He worked with The Beach Boys, Nat King Cole, Merle Haggard, Elvis Presley, and many more.
First Single on the Chart
When Campbell decided to pursue a solo career as an artist his first recording to enter the Billboard chart was “Turn Around, Look at Me.” His song reached number sixty-two on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. In addition, it entered the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart at number fifteen. Jerry Capehart wrote the song.
After his first single on the chart, he continued to release songs as a solo artist and sometimes with other artists. However, Campbell still did not get a big break.
First Song on the Country Chart
In 1966, Campbell released his song “Burning Bridges” as a solo artist. This became his first song to enter the top 20 of the Billboard Country chart. It placed at number eighteen. Starting from “Burning Bridges,” Campbell began charting songs on the Billboard Hot Country Chart.
Campbell was not only a great guitarist and country singer, but he was also an actor. Campbell was first asked to co-host The Summer Smothers Brothers Show. He was so good that the executives of the TV station gave him his own show, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour. He also appeared on the movie True Grit in 1969. In addition, he recorded the movie’s soundtrack.
The Best of Campbell
Glen Campbell, from a young boy picking cotton to a country star, released a total of sixty studio albums. He has one hundred fifteen songs on the Billboard chart. Campbell made a total of seventeen number one songs on the chart in his entire career. Now, we are going to take a look at the songs that were considered to be his best of the best.
“Gentle on My Mind”
“Gentle on My Mind” may not have reached number one on the Billboard Hot Country chart. However, it was included as one of his best songs. Why is it one of his best? Glen won his first Grammy award two times with this song. He won the Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance and Best Country and Western Recording.
The song was written by John Hartford and was heard by Glen on the radio. He fell in love with the song that he decided to record it. It was not a wrong move because this highlighted the beginning of his successful career.
“By the Time I Get to Phoenix”
Campbell followed his hit song “Gentle on My Mind” with another hit. “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” was a song first recorded by Johnny Rivers. Glen Campbell took the song and made it reach number two on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. Moreover, Campbell’s version reached number twenty-six on the Hot 100 chart and number twelve on the Adult Contemporary chart. This was also Campbell’s first song to enter the Canadian chart.
He brought home another Grammy Award for his song again He won three Grammy’s for this song and album.
Campbell’s song is about a man who wrote a note to his lover, telling her that he’s leaving her.
“By the time I get to Phoenix she’ll be rising
She’ll find the note I left hangin’ on her door
She’ll laugh when she reads the part that says I’m leavin'”
She does not believe the narrator. Therefore, she won’t bother to look for him because she knows he will be back. But as the whole day goes by, she starts to feel that he is not coming home anymore. Thus, he is finally gone.
This is one of Campbell’s biggest hit song. The song was released in 1968 on his same-titled album. Furthermore, the song was written by Jimmy Webb.
“Wichita Lineman” entered various charts inside and outside the US. In the US, “Wichita Lineman” reached number one on the Country chart. This is Campbell’s second number one song on the country chart. Moreover, the song placed at number three on the Hot 100 of the Billboard and number one on the Adult Contemporary chart.
Glen was nominated twice on the Grammy’s award show because of the song. In 2000, his song was inducted into the Grammy’s Hall of Fame Award.
Another Jimmy Webb song was recorded by Glen Campbell. He made it enter various charts inside and outside of the US. Moreover, it was Gold-certified by RIAA.
“Galveston” is a song about a soldier who joined the war. He thinks of his lover back in Galveston waiting for him to come back home.
Glen made Webb’s song reach number one again on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. Furthermore, it secured the number four position on the Billboard Hot 100. And yet, it placed at number one on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart.
After his number one hit song “Galveston” Campbell followed it with two more chart-topping songs, “True Grit” and “Try a Little Kindness.” We’ll first take a look at his song “True Grit.”
“True Grit” is a song about hope. It is about knowing that someday, you will overcome whatever challenges you are encountering right now. The song was written by Don Black and Elmer Bernstein as a soundtrack for the movie True Grit. Campbell was also a cast in the film.
When it was released as a single, the song reached number nine on the Billboard Country chart. It also secured a spot on the US Billboard Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary chart. In addition, it was nominated during the Oscar’s.
“Try a Little Kindness”
The same year Glen Campbell released his song “True Grit” for the same-titled movie, he also released the song “Try a Little Kindness.” The song was written by Curt Sapaugh and Bobby Austin.
“Try a Little Kindness” reached number two on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. Moreover, it secured a spot both in the Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary chart. His song also entered the Australian, Canadian, and UK chart.
Glen’s song is about being kind to everyone around you. It reminds us that we should show more kindness because that is what the world needs. With kindness, people will overlook everything and treat each other in a good way instead of judging each other.
“You got to try a little kindness, yes show a little kindness
Just shine your light for everyone to see
And if you try a little kindness then you’ll overlook the blindness
Of narrow-minded people on the narrow-minded streets”
It took Campbell five years before he scored another number one song on the Billboard chart. “Rhinestone Cowboy” became Glen’s signature song. The song became number one not only on the Billboard country chart. It also became number on one the Billboard Hot 100, making it his first number one song on the pop chart.
When Glen was on tour in Australia, he heard the song on the radio. It was Larry Weiss’ version playing on the radio at that time. Larry Weiss is the writer of the song. When Glen returned to the US, he wanted to record the song.
His version was also known in Australia, Canada, Ireland, Netherland, and other countries. Moreover, his song earned him another nomination in the Grammy’s. He also won the ACM’s Single of the Year.
This song talks about a struggling musician who is trying to get a big break in his career. The words Rhinestone Cowboy in the song signifies that the narrator has finally achieved the fame he always dreamed about.
“Like a rhinestone cowboy
Riding out on a horse in a star-spangled rodeo
Like a rhinestone cowboy
Getting cards and letters from people I don’t even know
And offers comin’ over the phone”
In 1977, Campbell earned his fifth number one song on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. “Southern Nights” is one of the singles from Campbell’s same-titled album. The song was written by Allen Toussaint. In addition, Toussaint recorded the song first.
He decided to record the song because Campbell was brought back to his childhood in Arkansas. “Southern Nights” is a song about Toussaint’s childhood days. That’s where he grew up surrounded by people telling stories under the stars.
“The Hand that Rocks the Cradle”
Glen Campbell collaborated with country singer and songwriter Steve Wariner to record the song “The Hand that Rocks the Cradle.” The narrator of the song assures the person he loves that he will be there for him or her. The narrator will protect the person he loves in anyway that he can.
“The Hand that Rocks the Cradle” reached number six on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. Sadly, the song did not enter the Hot 100 chart. Furthermore, Glen’s song was part of his studio album Still within the Sound of My Voice. The album has four songs that were released as a single and secured a spot on the Billboard chart.
He and Wariner were nominated in 1987 for the Grammy’s Best Country and Western Vocal Performance Duet.
“I’m Not Gonna Miss You”
This is one of the most unforgettable and poignant songs recorded by Glen Campbell. This song was the soundtrack of his documentary film known as Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me. His documentary was about his life, his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and the last tour of his career.
Campbell was already diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when he was doing his last tour. The most amazing thing was that he managed to co-write this song with Julian Raymond. He recorded it in 2013, and it was released in 2014.
“I’m Not Gonna Miss You” was also his last song to enter the Billboard chart. It reached number twenty-one on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. Moreover, it reached number thirty on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Campbell was nominated, and he won an award for this song. He was nominated for Best Original Song in 2015 during the eighty-seventh Academy Awards show. Furthermore, the song was nominated once during the Grammy Awards Show, and he won the Grammy Award for Best Country Music.
In the song, Glen mentions a sweet reassurance to his wife as he was battling his disease.
“You’re the last person I will love
You’re the last face I will recall
And best of all, I’m not gonna miss you
Not gonna miss you.”
Glen Campbell is Unstoppable
Glen announced that he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2011. However, that did not give him any reason to stop. He continued to tour until 2013. He was also able to record some album. Campbell released five more albums after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. He released his album Ghost on the Canvas in 2011, Glen Campbell and Jimmy Webb In Session in 2012, See You There in 2013, Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me in 2014, and his last album Adios.
Glen died in 2017 at the age of 81. He was buried in Billstown, Arkansas.
There you go folks, the top ten best songs of Glen Campbell, and a little bit of his life and career.