Ahead of his concert on Oct. 12, Pacific Index reporter Brendan Swogger talked to legendary American songwriter Jimmy Webb about his career, impact, and what to expect from his show.
Your career has spanned decades and had a really vast cultural impact. Looking back on it all, what moment do you feel especially proud of?
I remember one night in particular in the spring of 1968 when Glen Campbell and 5th Dimension both received Grammy Awards for their records, “Up, Up and Away” and “By the Time I Get to Phoenix.” It was the 10th annual Grammy Awards if you can imagine that. I was fortunate enough to win a Grammy for Song of the Year, and I was only about 19 or 20 years old that night. The elation that I felt can scarcely be described.
Your songs have been covered by a lot of artists and even used in some modern hits. What are your thoughts on the impact your music’s made and how it’s being used for other creative avenues?
I’m absolutely delighted to be a part of it. One of my songs, “Highwayman,” was originally sung by Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash, and Willie Nelson. There’s a new supergroup called [The] Highwomen, and I found myself tremendously moved by the lyrics that the women wrote. It all deals with the struggle to find a better life in this country. That is wildly pertinent. And I was more than happy for them to do that and let them rewrite the lyrics any way they wanted because I embraced the cause.
The tour that you’re on, and the show that’s coming up at Pacific, is in support of your new album, “SlipCover,” as well as your memoir, “The Cake and the Rain.” What’s to be expected for those who attend?
When I first started doing this show… what I started out doing was I deformalized the concert paradigm, and I just walk on stage and sit down and start talking to the audience and start playing songs. [It’s] me telling my story but more often than not, it’s in a humorous vain. It’s meant for everyone to have a lot of fun. It’s not a square show, it’s not a round show. It is a from-the-heart show, and I think that I’d like to invite everyone and say, if you come along, it’ll be like spending an evening in my living room. Except you’ll have to bring your own Doritos.
Tickets for An Evening with Jimmy Webb are available for $24 for Pacific students, faculty, and staff online and at the box office.
This interview has been edited for clarity and space.