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Glen Campbell

Posted by Richard on August 24, 2011

Glen Campbell has Alzheimer's. And that makes me very sad. I, like millions of other ordinary people, always liked Campbell's music, although critics were never kind to him. Which is ironic, since he was one of the top interpreters (along with the 5th Dimension) of the songs of Jimmy Webb, whom the same critics generally consider one of the best songwriters of his generation (and rightly so).

Here's a live performance of his first great Jimmy Webb song, "Wichita Lineman": 


[YouTube link]

Campbell is also a much under-appreciated guitarist. Check out the fine picking starting about 1:15 on this live performance of my favorite Glen Campbell song, "Gentle On My Mind" (a John Hartford song): 


[YouTube link]

And here are Glen Campbell and Jimmy Webb together performing a slow, hauntingly beautiful version of Webb's "Galveston":


[YouTube link]

I hope you like those. If so, check out Campbell's farewell album, "Ghost On the Canvas," when it's released August 30th. It sounds like it's going to be pretty wonderful. 

UPDATE: Speaking of fine picking, here's a video I watched after posting this — Campbell playing "William Tell Overture": 


[YouTube link]

Wow.

UPDATE2: I'm still checking out Glen Campbell videos on YouTube, and I found this one, and just I have to share it. "MacArthur Park" was certainly Jimmy Webb's most complex and enigmatic composition. Actor Richard Harris did the classic performance back in 1968. But here's a 2002 Glen Campbell live version that blew my socks off. Check out his guitar work:


[YouTube link]

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2 Responses to “Glen Campbell”

  1. Rick Shultz said

    Hey Richard:

    Having been a musician almost all life, I too am dismayed by what is happening to Glen. We all

    get older but dammit it shouldn’t happen this particular way to this particular man! Your remark

    about him being a much under appreciated guitarist is true and most poignant for those of us

    who ARE guitartists. This includes yours truly as I have played 6 string, 12 string, and bass

    since I was 11 years old, and although I do not claim to be anywhere near as talented as Mr.

    Campbell I DO know what it is like to begin to lose your ability because your body is failing

    you(although in my case it is severe arthritis in my hands). It really sucks big time and I feel for

    him. I am glad you included the the “William Tell Overture” video amongst your sections of examples of his work. Before I saw Glen do that, I would have sworn it was impossible to play that piece on a guitar. It was truly amazing. What can you say but “Hi-oh Silver!”?

  2. rgcombs said

    “Hi-oh Silver!” indeed — that one blew me away, too. Thanks for the nice comment.

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