The Lineman

I am a lineman for the county….

I woke up this morning with this haunting song playing around and around in my mind. Isn’t it true that every so often, haunting songs hit us when we least expect? Deep within our soul. Aching to get out.

I admit, I am a stickler for sentimental songs. Yep, I get teary eyes when I hear songs of life. Ya’ll remember Country singer Glenn Campbell right? The song he made famous called, “Whichita Lineman” written by Jimmy Webb.

Glenn Campbell’s soulful voice still resonates within the mind as ya’ll all remember this too…

I am a lineman for the county and I drive the main road
Searchin’ in the sun for another overload
I hear you singin’ in the wire, I can hear you through the whine
And the Wichita Lineman is still on the line.

I know I need a small vacation
But it don’t look like rain
And if it snows that stretch down south won’t ever stand the strain
And I need you more than want you,
And I want you for all time
And the Wichita lineman is still on the line

And I need you more than want you,
And I want you for all time
And the Wichita lineman is still on the line

Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group

The story behind this is Webb wrote it for Glenn Campell…

“So it was a character that I worked with in my head. And I had seen a lot of panoramas of highways and guys up on telephone wires … I didn’t want to write another song about a town, but something that would be in the ballpark for him.”

“Well, I didn’t want it to be about a rich guy!” he laughs. “I wanted it to be about an ordinary fellow. Billy Joel came pretty close one time when he said ‘Wichita Lineman’ is ‘a simple song about an ordinary man thinking extraordinary thoughts.’ That got to me; it actually brought tears to my eyes. I had never really told anybody how close to the truth that was.

“What I was really trying to say was, you can see someone working in construction or working in a field, a migrant worker or a truck driver, and you may think you know what’s going on inside him, but you don’t. You can’t assume that just because someone’s in a menial job that they don’t have dreams … or extraordinary concepts going around in their head, like ‘I need you more than want you; and I want you for all time.’ You can’t assume that a man isn’t a poet. And that’s really what the song is about.”

He wasn’t certain they would go for it. “In fact, I thought they hadn’t gone for it,” he says. “They kept calling me back every couple of hours and asking if it was finished. I really didn’t have the last verse written. And finally I said, ‘Well, I’m gonna send it over, and if you want me to finish it, I’ll finish it.”

All rights reserved to Mr. Webb and Mr. Campbell

So yes, the stories behind these songs have always inspired me. My impressionable years as a lonely kid or periods of being alone set a stage for understanding every person’s innermost soul. We all have our own ballad (a poem or song narrating a story in short stanzas. Traditional ballads are typically of unknown authorship, having been passed on orally from one generation to the next as part of the folk culture. A slow sentimenal or romantic song).

We all have a ballad that we started and never finished. And then one day, a lot later. We pick up where we last left it. And chip at it again. And one day, we’ll finish it.

Lessons learned is in the collaborative spirit of reaching out in honest and open terms, with people of like minds, it’s not so hard. When you connect with a person, in fact, it’s often surprisingly easier than you ever imagined. So haunting, so wonderfully inspiring. I know you have song. So does everyone else. I’m willing to listen. I’m willing to cry along with you. That’s what having soul is about!

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