Saturday, May 5, 2012

Jimmy Webb

The first time I saw Jimmy Webb was at The Bottom Line in 1993 promoting his Suspended Disbelief album. The second time was in December of 2000 on the CBS Sunday Morning Show. He played two songs with Glen Campbell. I was very lucky to be one of about 25 people admitted to watch the live television performance.

Tonight I attended my third Jimmy Webb show. Let us back up. You may or may not recognize his name, but you know so many of the songs he has composed. Jimmy Webb wrote Up, Up and Away, Galveston, Wichita Lineman, By The Time I Get To Phoenix, The Worst That Could Happen, Where's The Playground Susie, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, Didn't We, All I Know, The Highwayman and ,MACARTHUR'S PARK! You know even more, but I can't hum on a blog post.

Back in the day, I shoved my way to the front of the stage for some Maxwell's shows. And I have also been fortunate enough to have front row seats for a handful of amazing shows. But I have never had a better seat than I had for Jimmy Webb in Jersey City tonight. And I don't even know how that happened.

When I first heard that Jimmy Webb was playing the Brennan Court House Coffee House, I flipped my lid. The headline artists have always been local artists. I thought someone must have been screwing with me. I reserved my tickets the day it was announced. Jimmy Webb playing my hometown? Yes. I will be there.

When I showed up tonight, I was escorted to my seat. This was not a folding chairs in a gymnasium affair. Tables with four chairs around each table. Maybe an 80 person capacity. And I was taken to the table directly in front of the keyboard set up on the floor, 7 feet from my chair. I had THE BEST SEAT IN THE HOUSE! The keyboard was aligned directly to my chair!

It was AWESOME! He played a number of his hits and told long stories for each and every song. I have been a Jimmy Webb longer than I even knew I was  Jimmy Webb fan. Anyone reading this is a Jimmy Webb fan, whether they realize it or not. He is a legendary songwriter. Glen Campbell was the artist to his muse, but hardly his only outlet. Scroll through his Wikipedia page. You know his songs.

He played Up, Up and Away, Galveston, Wichita Lineman, All I Know, Adios, Oklahoma Nights, The Highwayman, If These Walls Could Speak, MACARTHUR PARK! I might have missed one or two, but it was a full show. His stories took more time than the songs. It was an evening I will never forget. After the show, he stuck around to sign autographs. I brought my collection of LPs and he signed all of them. When he saw my 'Jim Webb Sings Jim Webb' album, he told me that it was unauthorized and he hated it. But he happily signed it.

Side note, Laura Savini from WLIW was his handler at the signing table. She's been hosting so many of the NY public television music broadcasts I have been watching for well over two decades. An unexpected bonus!

A night I will never forget. In the presence of greatness. For any composers out there, I highly recommend his book on the art of songwriting, Tunesmith.  There are none better.