The title Meet Glen Campbell is a little puzzling, considering the album was released this year. After all, it's hard to imagine anyone who hasn't heard the music of Glen Campbell. Certainly that's true of those who were around when The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour was drawing 50 million viewers each week that it aired on CBS-TV. With a career that spans more than five decades and more than 70 albums, his catalog includes one double Platinum, four Platinum and 12 Gold albums, with sales of 45 million copies. Both Blender and Mojo magazines have listed his version of "Wichita Lineman" among the greatest recorded performances of the 20th century. His sound blends studio polish and artfully evoked emotion, rooted in Country yet as sophisticated as the most adventurous pop music and as compelling as finely crafted poetry. It is an essential and instantly recognizable element in the soundtrack of our time. Given all of this history, is there anybody who in one way or another has yet to Meet Glen Campbell? "I don't know," the legend answered, laughing. And then he added, "It doesn't really matter to me what they call it." "They" is Capitol Records, who are as much a part of his story as this Country Music Hall of Fame member is of ours. It was Capitol that released his first album, Big Bluegrass Special in 1962, when he was already a respected and prolifically recorded guitarist on the L.A. studio scene. Five years after that, the label accommodated Campbell's move from a Country/folk sound to a broader synthesis of commercial influences by releasing "Gentle on My Mind" and "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," thus launching his unique and phenomenal career. Campbell and Capitol parted ways in 1981; their reunion 27 years later owes in large part to the determination and initiative of an unlikely third party. As a producer in L.A., Julian Raymond established himself primarily through work with Fastball, Kottonmouth Kings, the Suicide Machines - bands not likely to headline on the Grand Ole Opry. Still, when he got a call from his friend Rick Camino, Senior VP, Marketing, EMI Music, asking if he had any ideas for new projects, Raymond's response was instant. "I said, 'Just do a new Glen Campbell album,'" Raymond recalled. "I'd grown up in a house where my parents played 'Wichita Lineman,' 'Galveston,' 'Gentle on My Mind'...records that crossed a lot of boundaries. So Rick said, 'Great, let's do it.' And that was that." Assigned to produce the sessions, Raymond contacted Campbell's manager Stan Schneider, who quickly reported back that his client was onboard. With that, the mission became clear: match Campbell to repertoire that would fit his style, hire the best players and record. Raymond began gathering songs, with his focus on finding lyrics that he felt would appeal to Campbell. "Knowing Glen, knowing his history, lyrics have been his No. 1 thing, especially when they remind him of certain aspects of his life," he said. "For example, The Replacements' 'Sadly Beautiful' has to do with someone who wasn't around when his child was growing up. When I played it for Glen, he told me it made him think of his daughter Debbie, who was very young at the height of his success in the late '60s and early '70s. And with a couple of exceptions, all of these songs address a common theme, that even when your belief is strong, one little thing could push you onto the wrong track." "The lyrics are what sold me," Campbell confirmed. "If you start with the lyric, you can always sweeten up the melody. So I just told Julian, 'You pick out the songs and I'll pick out which ones I like.' I stuck them in my car and listened to them as I drove. We did the ones that my kids and I really, really liked." Much of the material they chose came from unexpected sources, including Green Day, John Lennon, U2 and the Velvet Underground. Anticipating that Campbell might be skeptical about these tunes, Raymond rearranged some of them slightly to emphasize connections to things he had recorded before, deliberately evoking "Try a Little Kindness" in Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers' "Walls," "Wichita Lineman" in the Foo Fighters' "Times Like These" and "Galveston" in Petty's "Angel Dream." Raymond also made sure all parties concerned understood Campbell's sound would be the template for the recording sessions. In this sense, for all the similarities in terms of matching newer tunes to an historically important artist, Meet Glen Campbell followed a different game plan than the one Rick Rubin charted for the final Johnny Cash albums. "We couldn't have been further away from that," Raymond said. "As much as I love what Rick did with Johnny, those records don't sound like classic Johnny Cash. He made them kind of contemporary, which was cool. But we just wanted to make a really good Glen Campbell record from that '60s era." Meet Glen Campbell is in its tuneful way just as revolutionary as the earlier work had been. Campbell maintains the perspective he created 40 years ago, when he seemed to create his music from some serene place overlooking the fissures that divided popular music into distinct genres. This 1968 CMA Entertainer and Male Vocalist of the Year Awards winner and onetime host of the CMA Awards doesn't particularly think of himself as primarily a Country artist. "I actually was a little bit surprised to be elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame," he admitted. "I mean, I did do some great Country songs. And Country Music is worldwide, regardless of what language people speak. I love Hank Williams, man ." Campbell stops to sing the opening line to "Lovesick Blues," complete with impeccably executed yodel. "And Keith Urban is fabulous. I met Keith when he was 8 years old. He came up to me at this show in Australia and said, 'Mr. Campbell, I want to play guitar like you.' And I'll tell you one thing, he is one of the best guitar players on the planet today - Keith Urban and Brad Paisley. They're both No. 1 in my book. "But," he clarified, "a lot of the big hits are mainly three-chord things, and the songs I did had a little more chord progression. That came from listening to the radio when I was a kid. It was a battery radio because we didn't have electricity; we had to watch TV by candlelight." Pausing only momentarily to let the sly punch line sink in, Campbell continued, "I listened to whatever we could get before the battery went down, whether it was jazz or pop or straight-ahead, hard Country. But the music I listened to was mainly jazz, that big-band stuff. That's why I love Jimmy Webb's stuff so much. Boy, he's got a melody line with a chord progression that's as good as any writer I've ever heard, and then he's got lyrics that just blow your head off. That's why I like to take a song and get it the way I like it. You can take a good old rock 'n' roll song and make it elite pop. You can take a Country song and make it jazz by changing the chord progression. "Really," he concluded, "I'm just trying to satisfy Glen Campbell. That's the way I've always looked at it." © 2008 CMA Close Up® News Service / Country Music Association®, Inc.