An old musical friend left us yesterday: Glen Campbell. As a child in the 70s, we listened to all the greats, including Glen Campbell, John Denver, Anne Murray, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson etc. One thing about Glen Campbell was his ability to convey strong emotions just with his voice. I have always loved his music, even though it is severely outdated and of its time. There is no chance of a revival of Dreams of the Everyday Housewife, simply because we don’t really have housewives in America anymore.
From the bright tones of optimism in Country Boy to the deep seated loneliness in By The Time I Get To Phoenix, a Glen Campbell playlist can take you through the gamut of feelings. Galveston on the surface, is a poignant song about the coastal town in Texas, but upon a deeper listening, it is a protest song that conveys the fears of a soldier in Vietnam. Honey Come Back is a sentimental piece of resignation by a man who screwed up and knew it. His intonations and use of inflection was masterful, as though he truly felt every emotion, and I find myself hoping for a modern singer to recreate it but I’m always left disappointed. The closest I have found to the plaintive sadness and finality of By The Time I Get To Phoenix is Daylight by Maroon 5, but even that song – which is one of my favorites – feels lacking when compared (skip to 1:50 on that clip to get past the talking). Perhaps it is modern technology. My husband complains that digital remixing tends to “flatten” the depth in music. Or perhaps it’s not that at all, because I’m Not Gonna Miss You is a song that can bring you to tears if you let it and that is a song recorded in recent years, after Glen was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.
Glen Campbell was of a musical moment that really doesn’t translate to the new millennium, sadly. The orchestration on some pieces, and the stripped down simplicity of others are too “old fashioned,” and the lyrics are now “quaint” and obsolete and sexist. Young people either can’t relate to the hobo lifestyle of Gentle on my Mind, or technology has advanced enough to eliminate the need for a Wichita Lineman.
But for me, this is music that speaks – to the soul, to the heart, wherever it touches. He may not have missed us due to his memory loss, but I am sure going to miss him.
I’m not even going to touch on his musical ability here, except to say that if you ever thought Keith Urban is a super talented guitar player, take a look at Glen Campbell. He was renowned for his talent. For a bonus, here is a clip of Keith and Glen playing together in Vegas – what a treat.