Another of the great Jimmy Webb's songs, words and music by that master. A particularly melancholy opus.

It's probably his second most enduring work, behind the awesome Wichita Lineman. Artists who have covered this song include Nick Cave, Isaac Hayes, Dean Martin, Glen Campbell, Johnny Rivers and Henry Mancini.

By the time I get to Phoenix
she'll be rising
She'll find the note
I left hangin' on her door
She'll laugh when she reads the part that says I'm leaving
Cause I've left that girl
so many times before

By the time I make Albuquerque
she'll be working
She'll probably stop at lunch and give me a call
But she'll just hear that phone keep on ringing
Off the wall that's all

By the time I make Oklahoma
she'll be sleeping
She'll turn softly and call my name out loud
And she'll cry just to think I'd really leave her
Though time and time I try to tell her so
She just didn't know I would really go.

The song's journey plan proposes a presumably solo drive of a minimum of 700 miles - assuming a starting point not far west of Phoenix to the Oklahoma state line somewhere in the panhandle - in a period of about 24 hours. Less minimalistically the logic of the song's geography suggests that the starting point is probably somewhere around Los Angeles, which means that with a crossing into Oklahoma on route 66 near Benonine you are looking at well over 1000 miles in that time, averaging a constant 40 miles an hour plus, without breaks. Remember that the car and the roads are those of 1967, and that we are talking about a driver in a state of serious emotional disturbance planning two consecutive nights without sleep. The road safety implications are quite horrendous. Indeed, I think that we can safely assume that he never actually reached Oklahoma City - he would have ended up driving into a bridge abutment or, if he was lucky, in the caring hands of some small town traffic cop.

However, the songwriter masterfully sets a context for this reckless journey plan at the end of the first verse. The protagonist is clearly deeply self-delusional. It is clear what happens next.

He drove far enough to see the sun come up over the Colorado River, parked up, smoked a cigarette, then turned the car round and drove right back home again, just missing her because she'd already left for work.

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