In 1967, Glen Campbell earned his first song on the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart with his cover of “By the Time I Get to Phoenix.” His rendition reached number two on the Billboard country chart. In addition, it secured the twenty-sixth position on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” also entered the Adult Contemporary chart at number twelve.
His song was part of his Platinum-certified album By the Time I Get to Phoenix. Moreover, Campbell won a Grammy Award for his song and his album. His song earned him the Grammy Award for Best Male Vocal Performance and Best Contemporary Vocal Performance. Meanwhile, his album won Album of the Year. But, “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” was not originally recorded by Glen. He only covered the song like other artists.
“By the Time I Get to Phoenix” was first recorded by Johnny Rivers. The original version was not able to enter the Billboard chart. However, when Glen covered the song, it became a hit. Aside from Glen, other artists who re-recorded the song were Isaac Hayes, a collaboration of Anne Murray and Glen Campbell, The Mad Lads, and many more. Of all the recordings of this song, it was only Campbell’s version that reached the top 10 of the chart.
The story of the song was inspired by Jimmy Webb’s breakup with his girlfriend, Susan Horton. The song tells the story of a man who finally got the courage to leave his lover. In Webb’s song, he mentioned places he'll be arriving at while his lover finally realized that he is gone. The places that he will be arriving at is impossible to reach because it is too far away from each other. However, Webb said that this places mentioned should not be taken literally. He said that it is just a fantasy.
“It's a kind of fantasy about something I wish I would have done, and it sort of takes place in a twilight zone of reality.”