Donna Summer

Jimmy Webb on Auto-Tune, lying to keep John Lennon from being deported and how cocaine changed music

Jimmy Webb on Auto-Tune, lying to keep John Lennon from being deported and how cocaine changed music

There are popular songs, and there are great songs, and they are not always the same thing. How can you tell the difference? Time can help.

Songwriter and composer Jimmy Webb has Grammys and platinum albums and Hall of Fame plaques. But it’s the fact that people are still singing and still listening to the songs he started writing 50 years ago that’s a defining difference: “Wichita Lineman,” “Didn’t We,” “Up, Up and Away,” soundtracks, musicals, hundreds of songs and, of course, “MacArthur Park.”

He moved to Southern California as a teenager, in the glamorous radius of the center of 1960s popular music. In an age of furious electric guitar riffs, Webb’s rich, nuanced...

EDITION: California | U.S. & World
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