Thursday, August 10, 2017

Remembering The Lineman.

The death, this week, of country singer/songwriter Glen Campbell affected me more than I anticipated. For me, Campbell's music has always been an affectionate fixture, even if it hasn't figured prominently in my playlists. Whenever a Glen Campbell tune came on the radio, I would invariably turn the volume up.

This was especially true for the Jimmy Webb penned Wichita Lineman.

My grandfather was a lineman for the State Electricity Commission in Victoria, Australia. It was his first job when he returned home after the war (WW2). 

I remember the stories he used to tell me about driving the big old electricity commission truck that had the line barrels on its rear and how he would drive out to where the lines had broken to repair them. He was also responsible for the erection of many of the poles and wires across that remain in existence across large parts of the Gippsland country side. 

I like to think Pa was quite proud of the fact The Wichita Lineman talked about men and women like him - those who established such a vital infrastructure. It was he who introduced me to the track on his old HMV record player.

I hear you singin' in the wire,
I can hear you through the whine
And the Wichita lineman is still on the line...

Pa went onto become a night watchman at the Yallourn Power Station. He wore a uniform and a hat and worked in a station house onsite. Basically, he was the equivalent of a policeman. I have vague memories of visiting him with my Dad when he was on shift. The tearoom at the station had a jar of teddy bear biscuits and he'd often find one for me. He was a proud man.

Glen Campbell's was a voice I've known my entire life and Wichita Lineman is a song I'll forever associate with my grandfather. 

I am emotional, even as I write this.

Good things pass too frequently.


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