It should not already come as a surprise that one of the greatest singers to have ever graced the country music scene was Glen Campbell. This 81-year-old, who passed away in 2017, was a multi-faceted artist. In fact, he was not merely a singer. More than an amazing singer, he was also a guitarist, songwriter, television host, and actor. It’s so unfortunate that we have lost him almost three years ago, and we miss him very dearly. No one can ever do Glen Campbell as Glen Campbell did.
For a career that spanned five decades, Campbell released over 70 albums, selling over 45 million records worldwide. Twelve of these were gold albums, four were platinum while one went double-platinum. But, behind all these achievements that he had, there was this one particular song that started his run for gold. And, this is his “Wichita Lineman,” the single that paved his way for more chart-topping hits.
“Wichita Lineman:” Campbell’s Very First Gold Single
Penned by Jimmy Webb in 1968, “Wichita Lineman” was first recorded by Glen Campbell on May 27 in the same year. It was then followed by another recording on August 14, and then it was released in October. His version appeared on his 1968 album of the same name.
Throughout time, the song went to the third spot on the US pop chart and stayed in the Top 100 for 15 weeks. Moreover, it toppled other songs as it clinched No. 1 on the American country music chart for two weeks and the adult contemporary chart for six weeks.
Furthermore, “Wichita Lineman” penetrated other countries’ music charts. It placed at No. 7 in the United Kingdom while maintaining its No. 1 spot in Canada’s RPM national and country singles charts.
With the tune’s amazing chart performance, RIAA certified it gold in January 1969, signifying sales of 500,000 copies. To note, this was Campbell’s first ever gold-certified song for his entire career.
In 2010, Rolling Stone magazine included “Wichita Lineman” in its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and ranked it 195th. Further, the song has been referred to as “the first existential country song.” On the other hand, the BBC has also referred to it as “one of those rare songs that seem to somehow exist in a world of its own – not just timeless but ultimately outside of modern music.”
As of August 2017, “Wichita Lineman” has sold 357,000 downloads in the digital era in the United States.