Though known for such hits as “Rhinestone Cowboy,” “Wichita Lineman” and “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” Glen Campbell had even more to offer than just his great voice and catchy songs. Early in his career, Glen Campbell lived in Los Angeles, where his guitar skills earned him a place on the legendary Wrecking Crew, a stellar group of studio musicians known for playing on songs by Elvis Presley, the Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, The Everly Brothers, the Monkees, Merle Haggard, Nat King Cole and many others.
During the mid ’60s, he played bass with the Beach Boys, filling in for Brian Wilson, and he even played guitar on their legendary 1966 album Pet Sounds. Though he released several solo singles early in his career, it wasn’t until 1967’s “Gentle on my Mind” that Glen Campbell finally scored a hit with one of his songs. His career skyrocketed and he enjoyed a string of successful hits, as well as landing his own popular TV show, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, which ran from January 1969 through June 1972. Campbell also launched an acting career, appearing in such acclaimed films as True Grit with John Wayne.
Glen Campbell’s lasting legacy
Glen Campbell was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005, recognized for his stellar songs and musical influence. In 2010, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and embarked on a farewell tour with three of his children performing in his band. In January 2013, he recorded his final song, “I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” which was featured in the 2014 documentary, Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me, a poignant look at his final tour and his battle with Alzheimer’s. He succumbed to the disease on August 8, 2017 at the age of 81.
The singer left behind a loving family and a legacy of great music. Here, we take a look at 15 of the most beloved Glen Campbell songs.
1. “Gentle on My Mind” (1967)
Written by legendary songwriter John Hartford, this song was inspired by the epic film Dr. Zhivago. Hartford originally recorded the song himself, but when Campbell heard it, he was so impressed, he recorded his own version backed by the Wrecking Crew.
Released by Capitol Records, the song launched Campbell’s career and earned four Grammy Awards, winning Hartford Best Country & Western Song and Best Folk Performance and winning Campbell trophies for Best Country & Western Solo Vocal Performance and Best Country & Western Recording at the 10th Annual Grammy Awards. In 2008, the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Over the years, the song has been covered by numerous other artists including Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra, Patti Page and Elvis Presley.
2. “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” (1967)
This beautiful ballad was written by legendary songwriter Jimmy Webb, who became known for penning several Glen Campbell songs, as well Donna Summer’s “MacArthur Park,” Art Garfunkel’s “All I Know” and The 5th Dimension’s “Up, Up and Away.” Campbell made “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” the title of his hit 1967 album and took the song to No. 2 on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles chart.
3. “Dreams of the Everyday Housewife” (1968)
Released in July 1968, this song was the first single from Campbell’s Wichita Lineman. Penned by Chris Gantry, the song peaked at No. 3 on the Hot Country Singles chart, but became a No. 1 hit in Canada. The song was also covered by Wayne Newton and Gary Puckett & the Union Gap.
4. “Wichita Lineman” (1968)
Jimmy Webb was inspired to write this song while driving through Oklahoma and seeing a lineman working on a telephone pole. “It was a splendidly vivid, cinematic image that I lifted out of my deep memory while I was writing this song,” the late songwriter told BBC.
“I thought, I wonder if I can write something about that?A blue collar everyman guy we all see everywhere — working on the railroad or working on the telephone wires or digging holes in the street. I just tried to take an ordinary guy and open him up and say, ‘Look there’s this great soul, and there’s this great aching, and this great loneliness inside this person and we’re all like that. We all have this capacity for these huge feelings.'” The song went to No. 1 on the country chart for two weeks, No. 1 on the adult contemporary chart for six weeks and No. 3 on the pop chart. The single was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2000.
5. “True Grit” (1969)
Campbell starred in the John Wayne film True Grit and he also recorded this song for it. Written by Don Black and Elmer Bernstein, it peaked at No. 9 on the chart and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song and a Golden Globe for Best Original Song.
6. “Galveston” (1969)
Written by Jimmy Webb, this Glen Campbell tune is one of his more emotional songs, and tells the story of a soldier far from home, thinking of his girlfriend back in Galveston and confessing that he’s afraid of dying before he “dries the tears she’s crying.” The song went to No. 1 on the country chart and easy listening chart and No. 4 on the Hot 100. It was first recorded by Hawaiian singer Don Ho, who introduced Campbell to it when he appeared on his TV show The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour.
7. “Try a Little Kindness” (1969)
Written by Curt Sapaugh and Bobby Austin, Campbell had a hit with this upbeat anthem on three different charts. It went to No. 1 on the adult contemporary chart, No. 2 on the country chart and No. 23 on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100. Many other artists also recorded the song including Jack Greene, Wanda Jackson, Lynn Anderson, The Oak Ridge Boys and Kitty Wells. This video not only showcases Campbell’s voice, but also some of his legendary guitar playing.
8. “Rhinestone Cowboy” (1975)
Written by Larry Weiss, this song was the lead single and title track of Campbell’s 1975 hit album Rhinestone Cowboy. Widely considered his signature song, “Rhinestone Cowboy” became a massive hit for Campbell, spending three nonconsecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Hot Country Singles Chart (Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn’s duet “Feelins'” bumped it out of the top spot for one week and then it returned). The song also was a big pop hit, spending two weeks at No. 1 on the Hot 100 and won numerous awards.
(Take a look at Loretta Lynn’s 10 greatest hits and lasting legacy!)
9. “Country Boy (You Got Your Feet in LA)” (1975)
The second single from his Rhinestone Cowboy album found Campbell singing about being a country boy who is a fish out of water in the big city and longs for a simpler country life. Written by Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter, it became Campbell’s fifth No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart and peaked at No. 3 on the Hot Country Songs chart.
10. “Southern Nights” (1977)
This song was written and originally recorded by Allen Toussaint, who was inspired after visiting family in rural Louisiana. When Campbell heard it, it reminded him of growing up on a farm in Arkansas. He recorded it and took it to No. 1 on the country chart for two weeks. It was hit fifth and final chart-topping country hit, and it also reached No. 1 on the Hot 100, becoming his second and final chart-topping pop hit. It also spent four weeks at No. 1 on the Hot Adult Contemporary chart.
The song was introduced to a new audience when it was featured in the 2017 Marvel movie Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. This Glen Campbell hit will have you swaying to the melody, and is one of his most beloved songs.
11. “Sunflower” (1977)
This cheerful hit was written by legendary singer/songwriter Neil Diamond, who surprisingly didn’t release the song himself until it was included in his 2018 50th Anniversary Collector’s Edition six-CD set. Campbell released it as the second single from his Southern Nights album. It went to No. 1 on the Easy Listening chart and No. 4 on the country chart.
(Check out 20 of Neil Diamond’s most iconic songs!)
12. “Faithless Love” (1984)
This beautiful ballad was written by J.D. Souther and first recorded by Linda Ronstadt on her Heart Like a Wheel album in 1974 and recorded by Souther two years later on his Black Rose album. Campbell released the song in 1984 as the lead single from his Letter to Home collection. It peaked at No. 10 on the country chart.
13. “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle” (1987)
A beautiful tribute to mothers everywhere, this song was written by Ted Harris and recorded by Campbell and fellow country artist Steve Wariner. It was the first single from Campbell’s Still Within the Sound of My Voice album and peaked at No. 6 on the Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart.
14. “Still Within the Sound of My Voice” (1987)
“Still Within the Sound of My Voice” was the another poignant Jimmy Webb song, and served as the title track of Campbell’s 43rd album. Campbell took the song to No. 5 on the Hot Singles & Tracks chart. Linda Ronstadt covered the song on her 1989 album Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind.
15. “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” (2014)
Penned by Glen Campbell and producer Julian Raymond, this song was written for the soundtrack of the documentary Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me, an unflinching look at his battle with Alzheimer’s and his final tour. “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” won a Grammy for Best Country Song and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song. It was the last song Campbell recorded and he cut it with members of the Wrecking Crew, the famed group of session musicians he recorded with early in his career.
Julian Raymond shared the moving story behind the song with the Wall Street Journal: “[Campbell] had a hard day of people asking him about Alzheimer’s and how he felt about it. He didn’t talk too much about it, but came up to me and said, ‘I don’t know what everybody’s worried about. It’s not like I’m going to miss anyone, anyway.’…The song by design is simple. I knew we couldn’t do something like ‘Wichita Lineman’ that had complicated key changes or bigger-range stuff.”
In 2021 Elton John included “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” as a virtual duet with Glen Campbell on his album The Lockdown Sessions.
Glorious Glen Campbell songs
Glen Campbell’s profound musical impact can be seen in the vast variety of covers of his songs, and the work of many great country artists who came after him. While Campbell is no longer with us, his songs remain powerful and timeless country classics.
For more country music, keep reading!
BOGO Never Felt So Good
Whether you're looking to sleep better, have less anxiety, get pain relief or simply unwind the mind, these award-winning CBD Gummies from Sky Wellness do just the trick! Available in a variety of flavors, don't miss this special BOGO offer. Learn more at SkyWellness.com.