McPHERSON — Singer-songwriter Jimmy Webb is appearing in a solo show at the McPherson Opera House on Saturday, March 23, at 7 p.m.
Unless you’re deep into the country-pop music scene, the name Jimmy Webb might not mean anything to you. Mention “Wichita Lineman” or “By the Time I get to Phoenix,” huge hits for Glen Campbell, and there is instant recognition. The connection? Barely 21-years-old, Webb wrote both songs, as well as “Galveston,” not to mention the Fifth Dimension’s “Up, Up and Away” – Grammy winners all.
Then there was “MacArthur Park,” a smash hit for Richard Harris. Donna Summer hit gold with the same song in a 1978 disco remake.
Linda Ronstadt has worked both sides of Jimmy Webb, recording a number of his songs and also producing his albums. In a New York Times article by Stephen Holden, Ronstadt commented, “From a singer’s point of view, Jimmy is the only songwriter in my experience whose level of craftsmanship is comparable to that earlier era of Rodgers and Hart and Gershwin.” High praise indeed. With a discography that reads like a “Who’s Who” in the music world, Webb’s songs continue to grace a multitude of major recording artists’ albums, from Tony Bennett and Rosemary Clooney to Urge Overkill, Reba McEntire, and Shawn Colvin.
His credits include the soundtrack album for the motion picture “Voices,” featuring songs by Burton Cummings, Willie Nelson and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
Webb’s live performances, as opposed to studio albums, are a new phase in his career.
In his Times article, Holden wrote, “Mr. Webb ascribes his late-blooming vocal confidence and continuing creativity to his sobriety and his overcoming of a lifelong fear of singing in public.”
“This will be a fabulous show,” Opera House Executive Director John Holecek commented, “for a number of reasons. First, you’ll hear Jimmy’s hits sung the way he first conceived them. Secondly, he’s a master storyteller, and, believe me, he’s got stories to tell. He also wrote a best-selling book considered the bible of songwriting: ‘Tunesmith: Inside the Art of Songwriting,’ so he’ll have something to say about that, too. One of our ticket buyers told me, ‘I can’t believe you’ve got Jimmy Webb coming to the Opera House.’ Well, it’s true, and it’s an opportunity you won’t want to miss.”
The show is sponsored by Wendy’s. Media sponsor is KMUW, 89.1, Wichita Public Radio.