John War – “Wichita Lineman” (Glen Campbell cover)
John War’s stylishly modern take on Glen Campbell’s “Wichita Lineman” adds several interesting components to the classic beauty, War’s voice recalling the haunting croon of Campbell (though a bit more playful and upbeat), alongside the properly ardent strings. The soaring guitar solo just before the two-minute mark is an excellent addition, returning again in phenomenal form during the final minute or so with a squealing intensity that’s not averse to melodic feedback. I’m really digging this one.
Below are War’s own words on the cover’s inspiration and creative process:
Wichita Lineman” is a song I’d never heard until 6 months ago, but the moment I heard it, it became a song I felt like everyone should hear. So I covered it. Glen Campbell’s version of the song is labelled “Country” by wikipedia, but no one today would call it that– it’s classic Americana in the realm of Turner Classic Movies, a tale of rough-hewn cowboy heroism, an ode to weathering loneliness in the time of duty sung by a power line technician. It’s a song about profound emotions in everyday gestures, about how the maintenance worker you see on the highway might be living a more cinematic life than you could ever know.
I respect the Campbell rendition of this song so much that I couldn’t imagine changing some elements of the arrangement, but I wanted to bring the song into my world the best I could. Which means I rendered it as a polymorph of acoustic and digital sounds; I wanted it to sound like a bridge between the Beach Boys’ most orchestral moments [for which Glen Campbell himself was a session guitarist, interestingly enough] and Garbage’s sample-rich trip-hop sensibility. The end result has a kind of hip-hop bent to it, and I had a great time singing it.