Glen Campbell‘s impact on country music is something that no one can ignore. Over the course of his career, Campbell managed to place 80 different songs on various Billboard charts. 29 of those songs were Top 10 hits, while nine of them became number one hits.
Out of all of Campbell’s many hits, there were five songs that had a profound influence on the course of country music. As children, future artists listened to these songs and felt a push to pursue their own careers as country stars. Because of this, these five songs of Campbell’s have both directly and indirectly helped inspire entire generations of new country singers, and will continue to for years to come.
In memory of Campbell and his outstanding talents as a singer and musician, we’ve gathered those five songs here for you to enjoy. Start your musical journey by heading down below.
1. “Wichita Lineman”
Released in October 1968, “Wichita Lineman” was a single off of Campbell’s album of the same title. The song was written by respected songwriter Jimmy Webb, and was backed by the famous group of studio musicians called The Wrecking Crew.
Campbell was the first artist to record “Wichita Lineman,” and many cover versions followed once it achieved chart success. The song reached the top spot on both the Hot Country Songs chart and the Adult Contemporary chart, and also held on to the third position on the Billboard Hot 100.
As proof of Campbell’s overwhelming influence, “Wichita Lineman” was eventually covered by artists of all genres, from Ray Charles to James Taylor. But because of Campbell, the song will always be remembered as a country track.
Also written by Jimmy Webb and recorded with The Wrecking Crew, “Galveston” was released in February 1969, less than a year after “Wichita Lineman.” The song was another big hit for Campbell, who took it all the way to the top spot on both the Hot Country Songs chart and the Adult Contemporary chart.
“Galveston” was also a major hit in Canada, where it topped both the Country Tracks chart and the Adult Contemporary chart. Needless to say, the song’s success secured its place in history.
When CMT named its 100 Greatest Songs in Country Music in 2003, it ranked Campbell’s recording of “Galveston” at the eighth spot on the list. It was a ranking well-earned, and further illustrated the impact that Campbell left on the genre.
3. “By The Time I Get To Phoenix”
Campbell had a good thing going with Jimmy Webb, who also wrote another one of his notable hits, “By the Time I Get to Phoenix.” Released in October 1967, the song claimed the second spot on the Hot Country Singles chart and reached the Top 10 on both the Adult Contemporary chart and the Billboard Hot 100.
Although it never reached number one, “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” received recognition in other ways. The song led Campbell to win two Grammy Awards in 1967 for Best Vocal Performance, Male and for Best Contemporary Vocal Performance, Male. In addition, the song’s namesake album also earned the Grammy for Album of the Year.
When BMI published its Top 100 Songs of the Century list, Campbell’s recording of “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” was ranked in the 20th position. That’s quite an honor, considering the fact that the list was a ranking of songs from all genres.
The success of “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” shows how Campbell managed to introduce country music to a larger audience than ever before. A whole new group of country fans developed because of him, and because of songs like “By the Time I Get to Phoenix.”
4. “Gentle On My Mind”
Speaking of the BMI Top 100 Songs of the Century list, another one of Campbell’s songs ranked even higher on the list than “By the Time I Get To Phoenix.” That song was “Gentle On My Mind,” which was written by John Hartford and originally released in 1967 off of Campbell’s album of the same name.
“Gentle On My Mind” was placed at the 16th spot on BMI’s Songs of the Century list, which is why it may be surprising for some to learn that it was not a huge hit upon its release. Originally, the song never climbed any higher than the 30th spot on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and the 62nd spot on the Billboard Hot 100.
A re-release of the song in 1968 performed much better than the previous version. While it was not as big of a hit on the country chart, it did climb to the 39th spot on the Hot 100 and reached the eighth spot on the Easy Listening chart.
It seemed that all it took was the passage of time for people to recognize the brilliance of Campbell’s performance in “Gentle on My Mind.” He earned two Grammy Awards for his performance and the song went on to become the theme to his popular television variety show. To date, “Gentle on My Mind” has been played on the radio millions upon millions of times.
5. “Rhinestone Cowboy”
No one could get away with talking about Campbell without recognizing “Rhinestone Cowboy.” Known as Campbell’s signature song, “Rhinestone Cowboy” was written by Larry Weiss and released in May 1975.
The song topped three charts in the United States: the Hot Country Singles chart, the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart, and the Billboard Hot 100. It also reached the top spot on two Canadian charts, and was a number one hit in Ireland and Yugoslavia. In addition, “Rhinestone Cowboy” led Campbell to win numerous awards, including an ACM Award and three AMA Awards.
Something about the song intrigued listeners, who could never seem to get enough of it. Today, country fans of all ages can be heard proudly singing along to “Rhinestone Cowboy” every time it plays. If that doesn’t serve as proof of Campbell’s influence, we don’t know what else would.
Overall, the songs that Campbell released throughout his career had an immense impact on country music, and on the music industry as a whole. As a result, his legacy will live on for many years to come.