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Rhinestone Cowboy - Glen Campbell
I’m not a country singer per se,” said Glen Campbell. “I’m a country boy who sings.” Perhaps that’s one reason for Glen’s remarkable rise form rural poverty to big city acclaim.
Campbell left school at fourteen, “because they didn’t teach me what I wanted to know, which was pickin’ and grinnin’.” He worked his way to Los Angeles, where he became one of the highest-paid sesson musicians in the business. In the late sixties, his singing career took off, aided immeasurably by weekly TV exposure on the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour. By 1975, he had a dozen gold records, and had recorded nearly thirty albums.
And the biggest was yet to come.
“I heard ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’ on the radio,” he said. “It was a track off Larry Weiss’ album, and I immediately got a cassette of it. I actually learned the song while we were on a tour of Australia in November of ’74. When I got back to the States, I went into Al Coury’s office at Capitol and he said, ‘I’ve got a great song,’ and he played ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’ for me. Well, I was familiar with the song by that time. The airlines had been on strike in Australia, which meant that we had plenty of driving time to spend listening to the cassette. And let me tell you, the freeway over there is something else — from Sydney to Brisbane — some 650-odd miles. So, by the end of that drive, I knew ‘Rhinestone Cowboy.’ I could’ve whistled it backwards. But I related to the lyrics immediately. In the first verse he says, ‘There’s been a load of compromising on the road to my horizon.’ Then later he says, ‘There’ll be a load of compromising on the road to my horizon.” And the truth in that struck me; I think that’s what sold me on the song, much more than even the hook itself, the ‘rhinestone cowboy’ stuff.”
Glen’s version of “Rhinestone Cowboy” first appeared on his 1974 album, Houston (I’m Coming To See You). In May of 1975, it was released as a single, and took off right away, selling eighteen to twenty thousand copies a day. It went gold on September 5, and, at the same time, hit the top of the charts.
“I’d had number-one albums before, but never a number-one pop single,” said Glen. “But I really had a feeling about ‘Rhinestone Cowboy.’ It went way beyond anything that I had ever visualized for it. I thought it would be a hit record, but I honestly had no idea that it would be as big as it was.”
In 1984, movie studio 20th Century Fox released a lackluster film called Rhinestone, starring Sylvester Stallone and Dolly Parton. The song “Rhinestone Cowboy” did not appear on the soundtrack album, but there was a credit for Weiss in the film: “Based on the song ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’ by Larry Weiss.”