Southern Man

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Concert Review - Jimmy Webb

Concert Review? This is graduation weekend at Southern Man's university, meaning that he is beholden to endless awards banquets and baccalaureate services and commencement exercises. But the honorary degree receipient at this morning's ceremony was singer / songwriter Jimmy Webb and we were treated to an all-to-brief mini-concert. Southern Man always appreciates an opportunity to hear good live music and today was a pleasant surprise.

You may have never actually heard of Webb but you've certainly heard his work. He's the only person to win Grammys in all three categories - music, lyrics, and orchestration. He has a gravely country voice and plays a mean piano, and peppered his performance with several interesting stories about his college days and early songwriting career. An interesting observation - his most popular works were penned before he was 21 years old.

He opened his concert with The Highwayman, the title of which was adopted as the name of the group formed by Waylon Jennings, Johnnie Cash, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson. This was followed by a most well-received performance of By The Time I Get To Phoenix, a song that Jennings said he didn't really understand but was appreciative of the Grammy he won with it. Next up was All I Know, followed by a stunning rendition of Wichita Lineman. Webb complained that Billy Joel spent twenty minutes deconstructing that song at a recent awards ceremony and that Joel didn't get it either. Webb's mini-concert concluded with his biggest pop single Up, Up, and Away (In My Beautiful Balloon), Chances are most of the student audience didn't know many of these but us old fogies in the faculty certainly did and we gave him an enthusiastic standing ovation.

So as commencements go this was certainly out of the ordinary and even though it stretched an already interminable ceremony by a good forty minutes it was well worth it.


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