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Afterglow Jazz and American Popular Song

The Jimmy Webb Songbook

A 65th-birthday tribute to the songwriter, featuring interpretations of his music from Frank Sinatra, Dusty Springfield, Johnny Rivers, Nina Simone, and more.

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Jimmy Webb

Photo: CD cover art

By the time he got to hitsville: songwriter Jimmy Webb found early success in the 1960s with songs such as "Up, Up and Away" and "Wichita Lineman."

Songwriter Jimmy Webb was only in his early 20s when he became a major presence on the pop-rock charts of the late 1960s, as singers and groups such as Glen Campbell and the Fifth Dimension scored hits with versions of Webb tunes such as “By The Time I Get To Phoenix,” “Up, Up and Away,” and “MacArthur Park.”

Webb was the son of a Baptist minister, born on August 15, 1946 in Elk City, Oklahoma. His songwriting inspiration drew on his early love of literature, his attraction to visual imagery, and his own romantic relationships, as well as musical influences ranging from Dave Brubeck to Burt Bacharach—and he had a gift for coming up with sophisticated pop melodies and hooks. One writer has called him “the foster child of Tin Pan Alley and Sixties Singer-Songwriter,” and he’s sometimes been labeled a latter-day Hoagy Carmichael, for his ability to create ingenious and enduring hit songs that have found favor over the years with a wide variety of artists, including Frank Sinatra, Art Garfunkel, Maynard Ferguson, Linda Ronstadt and R.E.M.

Watch Jimmy Webb perform his song “P.F. Sloan”:

Special thanks to Jim Sangrey.

Music Heard On This Episode

The Worst That Could Happen
5th Dimension — The Magic Garden (26F, 2008)
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The Worst That Could Happen
5th Dimension — The Magic Garden (26F, 2008)
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Carpet Man
5th Dimension — The Magic Garden (26F, 2008)
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Up, Up and Away
Sonny Criss — Up, Up and Away (OJC, 1998)
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Wichita Lineman
Cassandra Wilson — Belly Of the Sun (Blue Note, 2002)
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Galveston
Glen Campbell — All The Best (Capitol, 2003)
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By The Time I Get To Phoenix
Frank Sinatra — Cycles (Reprise, 2010)
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The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (midpoint music bed)
Charlie Haden/Pat Metheny — Beyond the Missouri Sky (Polygram, 1997)
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Do What You Gotta Do
Nina Simone — Sugar In My Bowl: Very Best 1967-72 (RCA, 1998)
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When It Was Done
Hugo Montenegro — Tunesmith: Songs of Jimmy Webb (Raven, 2003)
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Tunesmith
Johnny Rivers — Summer Rain: Essential Rivers 1964-75 (Raven, 2006)
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The Magic Garden
Dusty Springfield — Anthology (Mercury, 1997)
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Time Flies
Rosemary Clooney — Demi-Centennial (Concord, 1995)
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Didn't We
Frank Sinatra — My Way (Concord/Reprise, 2009)
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MacArthur Park
Maynard Ferguson — Essential Maynard Ferguson (Sony , 2007)
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David Brent Johnson

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, David Brent Johnson moved to Bloomington in 1991. He is an alumnus of Indiana University, and began working with WFIU in 2002. Currently, David serves as jazz producer and systems coordinator at the station. His interests include literature, history, music, writing, and movies.

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