Acclaimed singer-songwriter Jimmy Webb says his concert this Friday night will be no ordinary gig. The creator of such diverse, platinum-selling classics as “MacArthur Park”, “Wichita Lineman”, and “Up, Up and Away” lived in Montclair with his family from 1987-93, and is looking forward to greeting old friends at the Outpost in the Burbs benefit concert.
Webb is currently touring the country to promote his new, rootsy-yet-sophisticated album: Still Within The Sound Of My Voice, which features duets with Keith Urban, Carly Simon, Joe Cocker, Amy Grant, and America, among others. (Listen to his new album here.) A thoughtful, charming guy, Webb graciously took the time to speak with Baristanet about his music, and reflected fondly on his years in Montclair.
Tell us about your current album: “Still Within The Sound Of My Voice”.
Each track is a little journey, an emotional encounter you take with these specific people. I find it very tender and intimate. On the album notes, I include a little story about each person, and what my relationship is with them. There’s a history that binds us together, justifies our collaboration, and certainly authenticates it. This is not just a marketing ploy; it’s something that occurred between two friends in a recording studio.
We approached each song in a spiritual way, searching for truth in the performance. Much consideration was given to each note and the shading of the instrumental track. We took the opportunity to do this in an era where craftsmanship is not particularly in the forefront of people’s minds. We did it that way because we love to make records.
What do you think of today’s popular music?
Unfortunately, we’re into niche worship. We’ve become very segmented and exclusive. People will say they only listen to rap, jazz, classical, new country, etc.
Mine are Nashville albums, so they have kind of a country flavor, but many of my collaborators, such as Art Garfunkel or Brian Wilson, don’t come to mind when you think of country. My albums are a refutation of the idea that you can’t fuse more than one kind of music. Democracy in music, I say.
What are your most powerful memories of your life in Montclair?
I lived there for about seven years on Grove Street with my first wife and our sons and daughter, in an old, beautiful home built in 1837. I loved all the old homes there.
It was about 20 years ago, but I have a lot of memories. We were a close family, with a houseful of children. Three of our kids graduated from Montclair High School. We hosted big Thanksgiving dinners, and were surrounded by our kids and their friends.
Why did you choose to live in Montclair?
For the open cultural atmosphere, and the fact that ethnicity was not a big deal. People in the community really shared with each other and were kind. I remember being able to go see concerts, visit art galleries, ride bikes around town.
Let’s face it, there isn’t any better place to live if you’re working in New York City and also raising a family. Montclair is the way the world should be. It’s not perfect, but it’s a step in the right direction.
You performed at the Outpost in 2008. Are you looking forward to returning?
I’m sure I’ll see some old friends there, and I’m going to enjoy that. This won’t be an ordinary gig.
I hope everyone comes out. It’s a fun show, a family show. I don’t send people away disappointed. Sometimes I make explorations into the more rarified part of the catalog, but I also play the hits, and the new songs. I’ll be happy to sign autographs. I do photos; I do hugs.
Jimmy Webb: A Benefit Concert Supporting Outpost In The Burbs,
with special guest Kenny White
When: Friday, October 18th, 8:00-11:00pm
Where: Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 67 Church St, Montclair
Tickets: $40 general admission, $100 VIP