Mark Steyn writes:
Whether or not the lineman was thinking about his girlfriend, Jimmy Webb certainly was: Her name was Susan Horton, the homecoming queen at Colton High School. But she married a schoolteacher called John, and Jimmy wrote “Wichita Lineman”, “Up, Up and Away”, “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” and even “MacArthur Park” all about his lost love in hopes of staunching the wound. (…)
He’d kind of forgotten about the number when Glen Campbell showed up at his pad a week later bearing an acetate of “Wichita Lineman”. “But it isn’t finished,” said Jimmy.
“It is now,” said Glen, and played it. One of the qualities Webb admired about Campbell was his sense of what a song required – in production, arrangement, orchestration: He knew exactly how much was needed – and no more. “Wichita Lineman” is a brilliant testament to that, right from the opening bass line by Carol Kaye and building to the staccato strings and piano tapping out Morse Code-like the hum in the wire. The SOS subtly underlines why the song doesn’t resolve musically – because, underneath all the stuff about his job, it’s a cry for help: the poor lineman is what’s really overloaded.
(More about “Witchita Lineman” at American Songwriter.)