Jimmy Webb always has been one of my favorite songwriters. Somewhere during the past decade, I discovered that he also performs, and I bought Ten Easy Pieces, in which he sings many of his best known songs – By the Time I Get to Phoenix, Wichita Lineman, Galveston and Richard Harris’s big hit (either loved or hated, it seems), MacArthur Park.
The more I’ve learned about Webb, the more impressed I’ve become. I bought TuneSmith, his book about songwriting, and got taken back to my high school and college years, when I tried my hand at an extremely demanding task. I haven’t been moved to try again just yet, but the book has given me some good insights into writing. (Cogent advice for the beginning song writer includes, “Writers must read. Composers must listen.” I was reminded of the young, aspiring PR professional I once interviewed who told me, “I don’t like to write. I like to talk.” I advised him to go and talk elsewhere.)
For the past several years, I’ve watched Webb’s website in hopes that he would announce a performance in Phoenix, where I live. I know he’s played here in the past. He doesn’t book a lot of dates each year, but Phoenix has helped pay a lot of bills in the Webb household over the years, so you think he’d show up here from time to time.
A couple of months ago I noticed that he was coming to Santa Fe. It’s just a cheap Southwest flight to Albuquerque and a quick drive from there, so I’ve talked my wife into making the trip this coming Saturday. Webb is playing a benefit for a Santa Fe animal shelter, and for a relatively modest sum of money, we’ll be able to meet him at a reception before the performance. I’m hoping to get my copy of TuneSmith autographed at that time.
If he plays Phoenix again, I’ll attend that concert too. But at the rate he’s going, by the time he gets to Phoenix, I might be gone.
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