Too busy of a week to build up a list of songs to share. So, once again I’ll cop out and share/write about a song that was featured this week on The Number Ones.
”Rhinestone Cowboy” – Glen Campbell
Bet you didn’t expect this! But I have a good story about this song that makes it worth sharing.
I loved this song when it was first out. I remember having a whole routine in which I sang and danced along to it that seemed to delight my grandparents. It was so popular that when large groups gathered for a meal at their home, they demanded that I perform it for all. Or at least that’s how I remember it. What all went into that routine I could not tell you or recreate today. But I did enjoy hearing it back in the summer of 1975 when I was spending time on my grandparents’ farm.
In time the song took on different meanings to me. First a corny joke of all that was wrong with that weird country-pop-rock sound that filled the airwaves in the mid-70s. “Pick a side and go with it, don’t be wishy washy!” Later an ironic, sing along that tickled something deep inside us Gen Xers but wasn’t a song you would put on to enjoy on your own.
And then one day last spring I was alone in the car and heard it on SiriusXM’s 70s on 7 station. For the first time probably ever I really listened to the lyrics and they struck me. I loved the clarity of the protagonist’s visions of fame. It’s one thing to hope for success. It’s another to think about getting fan letters from people you don’t know and offers to perform causing your phone to ring off the hook. And, as Tom Breihan writes, there’s that total confidence that Campbell sings with that carries the song. If you’re ever feeling down on yourself, put this song on, crank it up, and you’ll be ready to take on anything three minutes later.
Oh, and how about this video! I love every single thing about it. Glen walking down the street in a typical, cheesy 1970s video look. Wearing two watches no less! Then for the chorus the switch to him in an all-white outfit on a horse, waving to an imaginary audience. So. Freaking. Good. I really don’t understand how “Sledgehammer” and “Thriller” are considered the best videos ever when this beat them to the punch a decade earlier.