|"By the Time I Get to Phoenix"|
|Single by Glen Campbell|
|from the album By the Time I Get to Phoenix|
|"You've Still Got a Place in My Heart"|
|Released||October 23, 1967|
August 29, 1967|
Capitol Studios, Hollywood, California
|Al De Lory|
|Glen Campbell singles chronology|
"By the Time I Get to Phoenix" is a song written by Jimmy Webb. Originally recorded by Johnny Rivers in 1965, it was covered by American country music singer Glen Campbell on his album of the same name. Released on Capitol Records in 1967, Campbell's version topped RPM Canada Country Tracks, reached number two on Billboard Hot Country Singles chart, and won two awards at the 10th Annual Grammys.Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) named it the third most performed song from 1940 to 1990. The song was ranked number 20 on BMI's Top 100 Songs of the Century.Frank Sinatra called it "the greatest torch song ever written."
The inspiration for "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" originated in Jimmy Webb's breakup with Susan Horton. They remained friends after her marriage to Bobby Ronstadt, a cousin of singer Linda Ronstadt. Their relationship, which peaked in mid-1965, was also the primary influence for "MacArthur Park", another Webb composition.
Webb stated that the song was not intended to be geographically literal. "A guy approached me one night after a concert [...] and he showed me how it was impossible for me to drive from L.A. to Phoenix, and then how far it was to Albuquerque. In short, he told me, 'This song is impossible.' And so it is. It's a kind of fantasy about something I wish I would have done, and it sort of takes place in a twilight zone of reality."[a]
Webb called the song a "succinct tale" with an "O. Henry-esque twist at the end, which consists merely of the guy saying, 'She didn't really think that I would go,' but he did." Although the protagonist in the song plans to leave his lover, Webb did not leave Horton.
"By the Time I Get to Phoenix" was named the third-most performed song from the period between 1940 and 1990, by Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) on September 14, 1990. Many cover versions have been recorded. Charted versions include:
Hundreds of other cover versions exist. Engelbert Humperdinck covered the song in 1968 for his album A Man Without Love. Harry James released a version in 1981 on his album For Listening And Dancing (Reader's Digest RD4A 213). Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds covered the song on their 1986 album Kicking Against the Pricks. John Peel, the British 'alternative music' radio disc jockey, considered Cave's version to be "by some considerable distance" the best version of the song ever recorded. Brídín Brennan, sister of singer Enya, sampled the song for her second single on her Eyes of Innocence album. Country singer Reba McEntire recorded the song for her 20th anniversary album in 1995, Starting Over. Paul Frees recorded it as a recitation on his album "The Poster People", in the voice of Clark Gable.
|US Hot Country Singles (Billboard)||2|
|US Billboard Hot 100||26|
|US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)||12|
|Canada Country Tracks (RPM)||1|