Friday, July 16, 2010

Searching in the sun for another overload

From Stockholm to Wichita in 24 hours. Wichita is a great little city. Clean and prosperous, never in the race to build a clunky downtown skyline like Dallas. Beautiful 1930s bungalows stretch north of downtown along the meanders of the Little Arkansas River. The gorgeous art deco tower and terra cotta work on Wichita North High School brings to mind a time when school architecture was adventurous and a student actually could look forward to going to school there. A two hour drive north of my home town, I always felt a special affinity there and still have fond memories of once a week journeys during my senior year in college to take viola lessons at WSU (The Wheatshockers!).

What brings me to revisit Wichita is perhaps one of the finest songs written in the 20th century. Those that read this blog know that I have a big gooey soft spot for the songwriting of Jimmy Webb. He has a way with weaving his words into melodies that seem to have always been there in the back of my mind. And more often than not the lyrics hit a chord with me that continues to vibrate years later. Wichita Lineman conveys a feeling of yearning, a desire for a connection that never quite transpires. The lineman imagines the voice of his lover echoing over the electric lines. But there he is, up on the pole, miles away from the real thing and the reality and loneliness sets in. The arrangement adds to the mood, with swooning strings and a Gulbransen synthesizer (thanks Wikipedia!) telegraphing an insistent morse code signal.

I hear you singing in the wire
I can hear your through the whine
And the Wichita lineman is still on the line

And I need you more than want you
And I want you for all time
But the Wichita lineman is still on the line


Alex said...

I've always loved this song... even if the arrangement here is a bit too sappy for my tastes.

The lines "And I need you more than want you/And I want you for all time" are quite haunting... and get more so the older I get.

Holly A Hughes said...

I agree about this song (check out my April 14, 2009, blog post about it). Glen Campbell is a severely underrated musician, maybe because he did the crossover thing so well. He and Webb had quite a run of hits for a while there! Those guys were made for each other.