Glen Campbell's 10 greatest songs ever, ranked

28 December 2022, 15:37

Glen Campbell
Glen Campbell. Picture: Getty

By Tom Eames

Glen Campbell was one of the greatest entertainers of the 20th century.

The American singer-songwriter was a prolific artist, guitarist, actor and TV presenter, first emerging in the late 1950s.

Not only was he a sought-after session musician and gifted guitarist, but his silky vocals made him one of the most popular performers for decades.

With music encompassing pop, rock, folk and country - here are 10 of the very best Glen Campbell songs:

  1. Try a Little Kindness

    Recorded for the 1970 album of the same name, this positive song gave Glen a top 10 hit around the world in 1969.

  2. True Grit

    This sweet ballad was recorded for the 1969 film True Grit, in which Glen starred opposite John Wayne.

    Written by Don Black and Elmer Bernstein, it gave Glen a top 10 country hit.

  3. Times Like These

    For Glen Campbell's 60th (yes, SIXTIETH) album Meet Glen Campbell in 2008, the country legend recorded a few covers of contemporary songs.

    One such song was this incredible cover of 'Times Like These' by Dave Grohl's Foo Fighters.

  4. Little Green Apples (with Bobbie Gentry)

    In 1968, Glen Campbell recorded an excellent duet album with fellow country folk star Bobbie Gentry.

    Among the tracks was this gem, a version of Bobby Russell's 'Little Green Apples', which had also been a hit for the likes of Patti Page, Roger Miller and OC Smith.

  5. Gentle on My Mind

    This ballad was originally by John Hartford, and it soon caught the attention of Glen Campbell, who recorded his cover version with the Wrecking Crew.

    Campbell's cover became one of his biggest hits, and was later covered by everyone from Frank Sinatra to Elvis Presley to Aretha Franklin.

  6. Southern Nights

    Originally by Allen Toussaint, Glen Campbell had another comeback in 1977 with his country rock cover.

    When Glen heard Toussaint's version, he immediately identified with the song's lyrics, which reminded him of his youth growing up on an Arkansas farm.

  7. Galveston

    Written by Jimmy Webb, this country song was popularized by Glen Campbell, and is now considered as the official anthem of Galveston Island and the City of Galveston, Texas.

    The song describes a soldier waiting to go into battle who thinks of the woman he loves and his hometown of Galveston.

    The song was originally sung by Don Ho, who introduced Campbell to it when he appeared as a guest on his TV show. It was perceived as being a Vietnam War protest song, but Campbell performed it up-tempo, conveying a more general message.

  8. By the Time I Get To Phoenix

    Originally by Johnny Rivers in 1965, it was inspired by writer Jimmy Webb’s breakup with Susan Horton, also the inspiration for ‘Macarthur Park’.

    It details how the singer has broken up with his girlfriend with a note, before leaving their home.

    Webb later said of the geographical nature of the track: “This guy told me, ‘This song is impossible’. And so it is. It’s a kind of fantasy about something I wish I would have done, and it sort of takes place in a twilight zone of reality.”

  9. Rhinestone Cowboy

    One of the greatest country songs of all time, simply put.

    Larry Weiss wrote and recorded 'Rhinestone Cowboy' in 1974, but it was not a hit.

    In late 1974, Glen Campbell heard the song on the radio, and during a tour of Australia, decided to learn it.

    Soon after returning to the United States, he recorded his own version and in 1975 it gave him the biggest hit of his career.

  10. Wichita Lineman

    Jimmy Webb wrote this incredible song at the request of Glen Campbell and his team, following the success of their collaboration on the track ‘Galveston’.

    It went on to become one of Campbell’s biggest and most enduring hits, and was covered by many artists.

    Webb’s inspiration for the song came while driving through Washita County in rural southwestern Oklahoma. At that time, many telephone companies were county-owned utilities, and their linemen were county employees.

    Heading on a straight road into the setting sun, Webb drove past a seemingly endless line of telephone poles, each looking exactly the same as the last. Then, in the distance, he noticed the silhouette of a solitary lineman atop a pole. He described it as “the picture of loneliness”.

    Webb then “put himself atop that pole and put that phone in his hand” as he considered what the lineman was saying into the receiver. Campbell added that Webb wrote the song about his first love affair with a woman who married someone else.