About the Song
A country music that hit in 1975, “Rhinestone Cowboy” was popularly recorded by American country music singer Glen Campbell. American musician and songwriter Larry Weiss penned this spectacular hit that gained huge popularity with both country and pop audiences around the world. In addition, the song was produced by record producers Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter for Capitol Records. It was then officially released on May 26, 1975, as one of the singles on Campbell’s 30th album, Rhinestone Cowboy.
The Creation of the Song
In 1974, Larry Weiss created the song and originally recorded “Rhinestone Cowboy,” which appeared on his Black and Blue Suite album. However, it did not significantly chart, and it received less commercial impact. Later that year, while on a tour in Australia, Glen Campbell heard the song over the radio. He then decided to learn and perform the song. Soon after arriving in the United States, Campbell immediately went to the Capitol Records at Al Coury‘s office. Moreover, he was approached and presented “a great new song” which would later be one of his greatest hits — “Rhinestone Cowboy.”
Many believed especially music writers and critics that the theme of “Rhinestone Cowboy” very much identifies with Campbell himself. Its subject matter centers on survival and making it, particularly when the chips are down. AllMusic correspondent Steven Thomas Erlewine noted that:
“The song is about a veteran artist who’s aware that he’s more than paid his dues during his career … but is still surviving, and someday, he’ll shine just like a rhinestone cowboy.”
A Chart-topping Song in Country & Pop Music
Not only did Campbell chart “Rhinestone Cowboy” into country music charts, he also put it into the pop charts. Both country and pop audiences received the song well after Campbell’s version which was released in May 1975. In fact, the song climbed all the way to no. 1 on both country and pop charts. In addition, it topped the said charts simultaneously in September later that year.
In total, “Rhinestone Cowboy” penetrated 16 music charts in 12 countries. Most notably, it spent its highest rank at no. 1 on the Billboard charts namely, Hot Country Singles, Hot 100, and Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks in the United States. Moreover, it also placed on the top spot on the RPM Country Tracks and Top Singles in Canada, IRMA in Ireland, and Yugoslavian Singles Chart in Yugoslavia (now a defunct country).
Furthermore, “Rhinestone Cowboy” was one of the six songs released in 1975 that topped both the Billboard Hot Country Singles and Hot 100 charts. The five other songs were “Before the Next Teardrop Falls” by Freddy Fender, “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song” by B. J. Thomas, “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” and “I’m Sorry“/”Calypso,” both by John Denver, and “Convoy” by C. W. McCall.
Here’s the first stanza and the chorus of the song, and try to sing along:
I’ve been walkin’ these streets so long
Singin’ the same old song
I know every crack in these dirty sidewalks of Broadway
Where hustle’s the name of the game
And nice guys get washed away like the snow and the rain
There’s been a load of compromisin’
On the road to my horizon
But I’m gonna be where the lights are shinin’ on me
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…
WATCH: Glen Campbell’s 1975 hit “Rhinestone Cowboy” music video.
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glen campbell, Larry Weiss, rhinestone cowboy