Friday, April 25, 2014


The latest sad news about Glen Campbell is that the singer has been moved into a special care home, his family no longer able to care for him in the later stages of Alzheimer's.  The courage and perseverance Campbell has shown in the last couple of years has been remarkable, as he continued touring and recording, plus speaking out and allowing documentary crews to record his life and struggles.  He's been honoured by the Alzheimer's Association with the new Glen Campbell Courage Award, which will carry on his legacy.

Of course, there are decades of hits too, and his music has been re-examined of late, as younger generations turn back to more melodic times, less inclined to dismiss pop, country and string-accompanied productions.  Even the glossier 70's hits, led by Rhinestone Cowboy, are better appreciated than they have been for years.  This new, budget collection is as bare-boned as it gets, but as good a place to start as any, containing the biggest songs of his career among its ten cuts.

The glory days will always be the Jimmy Webb-written cuts from the late 60's, represented here by Wichita Lineman, Galveston, and By The Time I Get To Phoenix, certainly three of the best pop songs written in the 60's.  But Campbell had a pretty good knack of hearing cuts that would suit his honeyed voice.  Gentle On My Mind was a John Hartford tune, just as successful and poignant as well, somewhere between folk and country.  Dreams Of The Everyday Housewife and Try A Little Kindness were huge hits as well.  Rhinestone Cowboy as a huge comeback for him in 1975, in fact it was a bigger hit than any of the 60's numbers.  Country Boy is a good inclusion here, a minor hit from then but another well-produced and sung number, and not found on all Campbell compilations.  With a nod to his last recordings, also very well received, the final cut here is These Days, the track from his 2008 comeback album, Meet Glen Campbell, a fine Jackson Browne number. 

Campbell was one of my early heroes, the first radio star I took a liking to after embracing pop music via The Monkees.  I moved on to The Beatles and others, but the beauty and mystery of those early cuts, especially Galveston, has stayed with me my entire life.  A soft spot?  For sure, but I'll argue his place in the pantheon anytime.

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