Words and Music (Jimmy Webb album)

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Words and Music
Words and Music (Jimmy Webb album) cover art.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedNovember 1970
MCA Studios, Universal City, California, USA
ProducerJimmy Webb
Jimmy Webb chronology
Jim Webb Sings Jim Webb
Words and Music
And So: On

Words and Music is the second album by American singer-songwriter Jimmy Webb, released in 1970 by Reprise Records. This was the first album authorized by the artist.


By 1970, Webb had achieved a measure of fame as a songwriter. From 1967 to 1970, his songs had given him two dozen entries on the Billboard Hot 100, among them several Top Ten hits, including "MacArthur Park" by Richard Harris, "Worst That Could Happen" by the Brooklyn Bridge, "Wichita Lineman" by Glen Campbell, "Galveston" by Campbell, and "Up Up and Away" by the 5th Dimension. "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" was recorded by numerous artists.[1] These hit songs made him a favorite of middle-of-the-road pop singers like Tony Bennett, Tom Jones, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Dionne Warwick, and Andy Williams. He was also widely covered by easy listening artists like Ray Conniff, Percy Faith, Henry Mancini, and Lawrence Welk.[1] By the late 1960s, the music industry had changed, and many songwriters were now singing their own compositions. Following the unpleasant experience of his first album, Jim Webb Sings Jim Webb—which consisted of demos that were overdubbed and released by Epic Records without his permission in 1968—Webb began performing his own material.[1] Words and Music was Webb's first album that he produced, consisting of all new material.[1]


In contrast to the full orchestral productions of many of Webb's 1960s hit songs, Words and Music presents the artist in a less elaborate framework. The album was recording largely alone with guitarist Fred Tackett, who also overdubbed bass, percussion, and trumpet. Traces of Webb's earlier style can still be heard, notably in the horn chart for "Sleepin' in the Daytime" which echoed that of Harris' "MacArthur Park" and in the "elongated song structures, employing multiple tempos."[1]


The centerpiece of the album is "P.F. Sloan", a song about the costs and disappointments of being a creative groundbreaker. The song would later be covered by The Association, Jennifer Warnes, and Rumer. Webb himself would rerecord the song for El Mirage in 1977, and again for Just Across the River in 2010 with Jackson Browne.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic3.5/5 stars [1]

In his review for AllMusic, William Ruhlmann noted that the album "contained songwriting more concerned with personal expression than craftsmanship."[1] Ruhlmann went on to write:

He sang about being a songwriter, penning a tribute to fellow Los Angeles writer P.F. Sloan (author of "Eve of Destruction") and constructing the three-part suite "Music for an Unmade Movie," which had some caustic and cynical things to say about the marketing of popular music, music critics, and the Los Angeles music scene. Even here, however, he clearly expressed the importance to him of faith, no surprise for the son of a minister, and elsewhere he set the 150th psalm to music. He also expressed his desire to establish himself as an independent entity, even to the point of covering the Monkees song "I Wanna Be Free" (in a medley with the Everly Brothers' "Let It Be Me" and the Association's "Never My Love," performed as a duet with his sister Susan Webb), and he concluded the album with the forthright "Once Before I Die," in which he declared, "They'll never make me crawl, and you can write that on the wall." Thus, despite his success, Webb revealed himself on Words and Music to be an artist in considerable anguish who felt he still had a lot to prove.[1]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Jimmy Webb, except where noted.

1."Sleepin' in the Daytime" 5:03
2."P.F. Sloan" 4:00
3."Love Song" 3:35
4."Careless Weed" 3:12
5."Psalm One-Five-O" 4:35
6."Songseller" 3:40
7."Dorothy Chandler Blues" 6:18
8."Jerusalem" 5:00
9."Let It Be Me" (Three Songs)Gilbert Bécaud, Mann Curtis, Pierre Delanoë2:11
10."Never My Love" (Three Songs)Don Addrisi, Dick Addrisi 
11."I Wanna Be Free" (Three Songs)Tommy Boyce, Bobby Hart 
12."Once Before I Die" 4:30


  • Jimmy Webb – vocals, piano, organ, accordion, Craftsman 6 in power saw, vibraphone, psaltery, effects
  • Fred Tackett – drums, timpani, percussion, guitar, bass, trumpet
  • Tom Scott – saxophone
  • Darrell Birch – congas, African drums
  • Susan Webb – vocals on "Never My Love"
  • Jimmy Webb – producer
  • Brent Albright – engineer
  • Brian Ingoldsby – console
  • Terry Brown – console
  • Ed Thrasher – art direction
  • Guy Webster – photography[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Ruhlmann, William. "Words and Music". AllMusic. Retrieved October 25, 2012.
  2. ^ "Words and Music". Discogs. Retrieved October 25, 2012.