50 years ago today, Glen Campbell’s album ‘Wichita Lineman’ hit #1 on the US album chart. The inspiration for that title song’s lyrics came to Jimmy Webb while he was driving through Washita County, Oklahoma. He was observing “an endless litany of telephone poles, each looking exactly the same.” Then, in the distance, he noticed the silhouette of a solitary lineman atop a pole—the picture of loneliness. Webb then imagined what the man might be saying into the phone. When the famed country singer who was hoping for another song like ‘By the Time I Get to Phoenix’ heard the tune that was written for him, he cried.
Dozens of other artists, like James Taylor and, guitarist Johnny A., have covered the timeless ballad. Coincidentally, Campbell also played his very last live performance in 2012 on November 30. (1968)
MORE Good News on this Date:
- Leopold II, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, instituted penal reforms making his country the first state to abolish the death penalty in modern times—and the day is commemorated by 300 cities around the world as Cities for Life Day (1786)
- The writer and humorist Mark Twain was born in Missouri (1835)
- Gaining independence from the UK on this date: Barbados (1966) and South Yemen (1967)
- The motion picture “Ghandi“, which went on to win eight academy awards, had its world premiere in the most fitting of cities, New Delhi, telling the biographical tale of Mohandas Gandhi, an Indian lawyer whose non-violent activism overthrew an empire (1982)
- Bill Clinton brought the hope for peace to Northern Ireland and received a rapturous welcome as the first serving US president to visit the region (1995)
- President Clinton signed the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act into law, which was catalyzed by the assassination attempt on President Reagan when Press Secretary Brady was shot and nearly killed (1993)
- The Countryside and Rights of Way Act instituted in the UK formalized the Scottish tradition of unhindered access to open countryside, provided care is taken not to cause damage or interfere with farming and hunting (2000)
- Longtime Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings collected a total of $2,520,700, television’s biggest game show winnings (2004)
- John Sentamu became the first black archbishop in the Church of England (2005)
- The Dave Matthews Band turned their tour-opening show in East Rutherford, NJ into a benefit concert, fulfilling a pledge to donate $1 million from ticket sales and merchandise to support Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts. (2012)
And, on this day in 1982, Michael Jackson’s Thriller LP was released. Produced by Quincy Jones, and featuring a duet with Paul McCartney, it became the world’s best-selling album of all time, with estimated sales of 66 million copies.
The first to be certified 33× multi-platinum, the album won a record-breaking eight Grammy Awards, with 7 top 10 singles, including Billie Jean, Beat It, The Girl Is Mine and Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’—all of which Jackson wrote. The groundbreaking Thriller music video is regarded as the best ever produced–with choreography that has been memorized and replicated the world over.