Tuesday, August 8, 2017


Glen Campbell died today. I was prepared for it, I thought, I knew it was coming. Ever since he went public with his Alzheimers diagnosis, you knew it wasn't going to end pretty. Somehow it did, as pretty as it could have been. He managed, with the help of his band, his family and various caretakers, a final tour. He gave that to his fans, going on stage knowing that he would forget lyrics, play songs twice, and sometimes not know what city he was in. Everybody knew that there would be trying moments, but there would be moments between audience and performer that would never be forgotten. If this sounds like total corn to you, fuck off. Fuck off, because Glen Campbell was everything you could ask for in a musician. An excellent guitarist, and a great, great singer, and he carried with him an aura of humility that belied his talent.

Campbell's music was part of the soundtrack of my youth, via my Dad's radio in the garage. Back then, though my brothers and I were more interested in rock 'n' roll, there were parts of Campbell's output that we appreciated. There's no denying the craftsmanship of his Jimmy Webb penned hits, but our attention was more directed at parts of songs. Example: the guitar outro on "Galveston". It's so damn simple, so pure and the guitar tone so perfectly suited to the song that it still gives me goosebumps decades after hearing it from my Dad's tinny radio.

While Campbell was never seen as an entirely hip performer, he seemed so unconcerned with hip, he transcended the whole damn idea. He was a musician first and foremost, good enough that he was a member of the Wrecking Crew, the crack team of studio performers that played on a who's who of sixties chart toppers. In 1963 alone he played on sessions for over five hundred songs. He stood in for Brian Wilson when Wilson retreated from the road, and to repay him Wilson produced an early single, "Guess I'm Dumb". The hits would come, a TV show "The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour", and a movie role in True Grit (with John Wayne).

All through it he continued recording, and he never really stopped. Even after his diagnosis, he released a couple albums. Here's just a smattering of songs. There's a few of the hits, all perfect parent pop records, a Jackson Browne cover, "These Days", and the aforementioned Wilson produced "Guess I'm Dumb" The real interesting oddball is Campbell covering a Velvet Underground song, "Jesus". No one ever told me about that one.

Glen Campbell - Galveston mp3 at Cold Splinters
Glen Campbell - Gentle On My Mind mp3
at Pretty Goes With Pretty
Glen Campbell - Wichita Lineman
(streaming) at YouTube
Glen Campbell - Guess I'm Dumb mp3
at Margauxville Produced by Brian Wilson
Glen Campbell - These Days mp3
at Rock Town Hall Jackson Browne cover
Glen Campbell - Jesus
(streaming) at YouTube Velvet Underground cover

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