Waterloo Sunset This is a personal exploration of pop from 1965-75. It was an exceptionally fertile time for popular music, spanning the British Invasion, Motown, country rock, singer-songwriters and much more. From it come many fine songs to re-imagine and re-introduce.
It’s been fascinating to explore what these songs mean for me now, 40 and 50 years on. Being the songs of my youth, they’re loaded with echoes of people, places and experiences long gone.
In the broader social context, time has caught up on some of them, offering new interpretive opportunities. For example – what are we to think today of the peace and love promised by the ‘Age of Aquarius’ and flower power back in 1967? Bob Dylan’s ‘Times’ – were they ever really ‘A-Changing’. And did the Monkees realise their Last Train to Clarksville would turn out to be a potent anti-Vietnam war protest vehicle?
Wichita Lineman In the 1960s/70s, Jimmy Webb was perhaps the most successful mainstream songwriter alive. His songs were recorded by a stellar line-up of pop artists including Glenn Campbell, Art Garfunkel, Linda Ronstadt, the 5th Dimension and actor Richard Harris.
Wichita Lineman, “a simple tale of a lonely telephone repairman working in the vast open plains of the American Midwest” was described as “one of the most perfectly realised pop songs of all time”.
By the Time I Get to Phoenix became the world’s third most-performed song in the fifty years between 1940 and 1990.
And the haunting Highwayman, the story of four souls – a highwayman, a sailor, a construction worker and a “starship captain” – was a massive hit for Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson who formed the supergroup The Highwaymen and recorded it.
My ‘Wichita Lineman’ show explores these wonderful songs and inner worlds Jimmy Webb has created.
The material spans five decades, from the heyday 1960’s and 70s when Webb to more recent work like ‘The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress’, ‘The Highwayman’ and Glenn Campbell’s recent touching farewell ‘Adios’.
Tim Benton Waterloo Sunset and Wichita Lineman are performed by me, accompanied by live piano or trio.
I seek out quality popular music and re-interpret it. Like a furniture restorer, I strip away the original arrangements to find the heart of the music and lyric.
My interpretations usually tell human stories, reveal characters or paint scenes.
I often get comments like “so romantic!” or “I didn’t realise the song was about that” or “I never really heard those lyrics before”.
I curate my interpretations into themed shows with chat that provides context and builds audience engagement.
Musical treatments are by London-based Simon Wallace. A leading arranger for film and TV (Absolutely Fabulous, Clive James Show), Simon works with many top UK jazz and cabaret singers including Sarah Moule, Clare Teal, Ian Shaw, Pete Atkin, Gill Manly and Barb Jungr.