In the mid-Eighties and early Nineties, Nashville-based band Restless Heart did what one of the artists they most admired — superstar musician Glen Campbell — had accomplished two decades earlier. Establishing a presence on the country charts, Restless Heart also had pop crossover hits with their 1986 release “I’ll Still Be Loving You,” and the 1992 Top Fifteen smash “When She Cries.” Although singer Larry Stewart had left the group by the time of the latter single, he rejoined the band’s four original four members and in 2002, the quintet released their Still Restless LP. In 2013, the Grammy-nominated group celebrated their 30th anniversary.
Now, as the visionary band looks ahead, they celebrate Leap Day with the February 29th digital release of their first new music since 2013, a cover of Campbell’s 1969 pop-country classic “Wichita Lineman,” penned by Jimmy Webb. It’s an idea whose seed had actually been planted by Campbell himself on a Mississippi riverboat in the shadow of the St. Louis Arch, when Restless Heart shared a stage with the guitar legend in the mid-Eighties, as both acts appeared on an Independence Day TV special for producer Dick Clark.
“We had some time to relax on the boat before our performances,” the group’s Dave Innis, who also produced the track, tells Rolling Stone Country. “Glen was telling stories and at one point he said, ‘You guys should cut a Jimmy Webb song’.” (Webb also penned other huge Campbell hits, including “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” and “Galveston”). After Innis related that story to co-producer Harry Smith during a recording session, the idea took hold.
Although it features the group’s trademark shimmering harmonies, the tune beautifully pays homage to Campbell’s original, which was first produced and arranged by pianist Al DeLory and cut with musicians (including Glen himself) who made up the group of crack studio session players in Los Angeles known as the Wrecking Crew.
“This is one of our finest collaborations as a band,” says Innis. “Each one of us put our own personal touch on this track, vocally and musically. Since all of the Restless Heart guys are such big admirers of Glen, it’s nice that we finally took his suggestion 30 years later and cut a Jimmy Webb song!”
Along with the new single, the group has several tour dates on the books throughout March, with shows consisting of many of their more than two dozen hits, such as “Wheels,” “The Bluest Eyes in Texas,” and “A Tender Lie.”