Monday, August 14, 2017

Glen Campbell

Nice to see the outpouring of affection for Glen Campbell (who died last week). You never know which passing celebrities will get a flood of Social Media love and which are met with meh.

I would have thought Glen Campbell was merely a memory in baby boomers’ lives, but it was heartening to see he was quite beloved.

I was always a fan. And coincidentally, just a couple of weeks ago I put together a playlist for my iPhone of Glen Campbell songs and was reminded of just how good he was. He had that easy accessible voice and could convey heartache in a way that went right to your kishkas. Those Jimmy Webb songs from the late ‘60s were the perfect vehicle for him. (But boy was I disappointed when I finally saw Galveston for myself. Who misses oil wells on the beach?)

Campbell also had his own variety show on CBS in the late ‘60s. It was originally a summer replacement for the Smothers Brothers but did so well he got his own slot. He had a real warmth and could really connect with the audience. He also had the sense to know his strengths and weaknesses. A physical comedian he was not so he wisely avoided the cringeworthy kind of sketches you saw on most variety shows. (Sonny was not funny.)

And besides all of that, he was a remarkable guitarist. Prior to his singing success he was a session man on the Wrecking Crew – a collection of the very best studio musicians in the world that backed most hit records in the ‘60s.

Oh, and he was a Beach Boy. Well, a substitute Beach Boy. But sometimes when Brian Wilson didn’t want to tour Glen Campbell would trade his spurs for flip flops.

He’s had Alzheimer’s for years. There’s that documentary about him that’s very hard to watch. But for the most part he’s been out of the public eye for several decades. And in a time where you’re forgotten before you can say “Taylor Hicks” Glen Campbell has happily remained on peoples’ radar.

Now that we all have Spotify and Pandora and other services that allow us to access any music we want, treat yourself to a little Glen Campbell today. But don’t be fooled by Galveston.

32 comments :

Bill Jones said...

I was born in 1977 and came of age in the 1980s. So I have never quite understood the love for Glen Campbell--who was no longer really part of the zeitgest by then--although admittedly all I know is "Rhinestone Cowboy." What are some songs of his that I should be listening to in order to "get" him? I like "classic" country (Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, etc.), so I think I would like him. That said, I am ambivalent about the Southern California take on country (Flying Burrito Brothers, etc.) which some days I like and some days I think is just a bunch of wanna-be poseurs. Where does Campbell fit into that?

Mike Barer said...

I remember watching the film clip of the Beatles now legendary Rooftop Concert on the Glen Campbell Good Time Hour. The Fab Four played "Get Back", it was the first time that I had seen Paul McCartney with a beard. They also had a black keyboard player accompanying them, who I later learned was Billy Preston.

Shaun S said...

I think Wichita Lineman is one of the greatest songs of all time, RIP Glen Campbell.

McAlvie said...

We have seen too many no talent wonders and pop tart in recent years, I think it makes us more appreciative of real talent; you know, the kind that doesn't have an entire marketing team rebranding them every few years

As you said, Ken, Glen Campbell had real talent. And he wasn't just a country star because I can well remember his songs being played on the pop stations of my youth. No gimmicks, just that wonderful voice connecting with the audience. And his songs will live on long after the latest poptart has thrown their last temper tantrum and fired their management/marketing people.

Adios, Glen. And thank you for the gift of your talent.

George Adelman said...

Glen Campbell and Barbara Cook passing away in the same day was a double whammy of sad. I know you're a fan of Barbara's and have seen her in concert. Any comments on her death?

estiv said...

Bill Jones, sample the earliest hits and if you like them start exploring. And remember that for all his country roots, Glen Campbell was also a pop star from the very first of his hits. Unlike Dolly Parton or Willie Nelson, he didn't have a long career in country music before crossing over. Try these songs:

“Gentle on My Mind”
“By the Time I Get to Phoenix”
“Wichita Lineman”
“Galveston”

Constance Reader said...

Yeah, the real Galveston is a disappointment compared to the picture portrayed in the song, but it's worth listening to for Glen's guitar solo alone.

Mike Doran said...

I've heard (can't confirm) that Glen Campbell was one of the guitarists on Stan Freberg's version of "The Banana Boat Song", the other being Laurindo Almeida.
The legend goes that Campbell had to hold back on breaking up at Stan's and Peter Leeds's dialog (Almeida, less fluent in English, had less trouble in this regard).

Earl Boebert said...

Netflix is still streaming "The Wrecking Crew," the documentary about studio musicians by the son on the legendeary Tommy Tedesco. Not to be missed, not the least for some great Glen Campell footage.

Curt Alliaume said...

I write occasional blog posts guiding people to which greatest hits set to buy for artists they may not know well. Here's my Glen Campbell post:

http://abandonedandheartbroke.blogspot.com/2017/08/if-youre-only-going-to-buy-one-greatest.html

Tom said...

And a perfectly decent actor, as seen holding his own with John Wayne in "True Grit."

waldcast said...

Glen Campbell was a phenomenon in the late 60's who transcended country labels and was a major crossover star.

Gary said...

Check out YouTube, lots of good videos, even several episodes of the Good Time Hour. Some good stuff with Jerry Reed and Roy Clark, and his daughter too. His musical talent is remarkable, especially when you consider he never learned to read music. He is forever Gentle on my Mind.

Breadbaker said...

True story: on Tuesday I was flying to Phoenix and the words of "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" were running through my head. By the time I got to Phoenix, the news had broken about Glen Campbell's death. One of those eery moments.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

I watched his show when it was on because I liked (most of) the music. (As opposed to the Carol Burnett Show, where I adored the comedy and turned the sound down when they were singing and dancing so I could practice the guitar instead.)

He was never one of my favorite singers, but he was undeniably very skilled and smoothly professional. People underestimate smooth, clean playing like his because it sounds easy.

wg

Victor Velasco said...

Glen Campbell was an amazing musician and if I remember the documentary right, he was the only guy in the "Wrecking Crew" who couldn't read music.

Re: those hit makers from the 60's and 70's, I believe the 'best' book that could describe that era would be very dry and kind of biblical: someone should redact the socials and publish the L.A. studio logs from that time...no arguments, no skewed opinions, no phony stories told to some willfully ignorant writer years ago and reprinted thousands of times.

Roger Owen Green said...

Everyone should watch Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me. It IS painful, but quite remarkable. I was a fan of Campbell.

John Nixon said...

For a good look at just how good of an artist Glen Campbell was take a look at this video...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETkzK9pXMio

'Gentle On My Mind', written by John Hartford, is one of the all time great songs and with his instrumental skills he is 'wow-ing' some of the finest guitar players of all time including Chet Atkins and Roy Clark. Everyone in that room is a big time musician and they are all thoroughly impressed.

I think he was also great at picking the songs he wanted to sing. Songs with great lyrics as well as music. He was one of those artists where you could put one of his records on, lay down on the couch, stare at the ceiling and really absorb the music. You could really visualize and feel the story that the lyrics and music together were presenting to you.

Green Luthor said...

Give a listen to "I'm Not Gonna Miss You", the song Campbell wrote and recorded about his Alzheimer's. It's both really great, and one of the most heartbreaking songs you'll ever hear.

Anonymous said...

I worked at the radio station (KGBS) that helped make Glen Campbell a star. When the station went Country, we put on a big show at the Hollywood Bowl, starring Eddy Arnold. Glen, then a studio (if that's what you want the call the Wrecking Crew) musician was the opening act. Dale Peterson, KGBS General Manager, knew about Glen and saw his potential, and booked him regularly on subsequent shows, mostly at the Shrine Auditorium, moving him up the bill until he became the headliner.

tavm said...

I pressed a lot of likes on several Glen Campbell videos on YouTube after he died. One of them was of his variety show from the early '70s. This particular one had John Wayne, Tim Conway, and Three Dog Night. Glen sang "Joy to the World" with the latter which I liked. Tim did his John Wayne imitation which was funny enough. The Duke and Glen introed a film of them at a theatre named after Wayne of which costumes of his most famous movies were displayed. He said She Wore a Yellow Ribbon was his favorite of his movies. Oh, Glen also performed with his semi-regular castmate Jerry Reed. I enjoyed that ep and am looking forward to watching more of his "Goodtime Hour" eps as well as his guest appearances on other shows like that of Barbara Mandrell and Dolly Parton's on YT soon...

Anonymous said...

I worked at the radio station (KGBS) that helped make Glen Campbell a star. When the station went Country, we put on a big show at the Hollywood Bowl, starring Eddy Arnold. Glen, then a studio (if that's what you want the call the Wrecking Crew) musician was the opening act. Dale Peterson, KGBS General Manager, knew about Glen and saw his potential, and booked him regularly on subsequent shows, mostly at the Shrine Auditorium, moving him up the bill until he became the headliner. To promote these shows, KGBS printed up thousands of posters called snipes and I helped put them up all over town. I kept copies of all of them and put together a collection of the ones featuring Glen, from opening act to headliner and took them to his agent's office on Sunset Blvd. Don't know if he ever gave them to Glen.

Mike Schryver said...

shoutfactorytv.com also has some episodes of his TV show.

soulthing said...

Taylor Hicks is hosting an award winning food and travel show on the INSP Network, now in it's second season called "State Plate". Perhaps YOU should get off your high horse and do a bit of research before you diss a hard working, successful entertainer/musician.

-Disgusted

Anonymous said...

You can't name a guitarist so versatile in both the country and rock genres as Glen Campbell.

Laurie said...

Bill Jones, listen to Wichita Lineman, Austin City Limits on You Tube. Gorgeous performance that captures his essence and great guitar playing .

Peter said...

Like Bill Jones, I too was born in 77 and only really know Rhinestone Cowboy.

I'll look up other songs by him, but what I want to say is that despite only knowing the one song, I've always had affection for Campbell because he always struck me as a genuinely nice guy. Any interview I saw with him, there was a decency and sweetness that always came across which I found quite warm and touching. Just being a good guy is achievement enough in this grim world.

Rest in Peace.

CCroom said...

The BBC has been running a couple of programs on Glen Campbell. One, of him in concert with a huge orchestra, really shows off his guitar playing. And at the end, he even plays bagpipes. No matter where he was, he was just a good ole Arkansas boy who wanted to sing and play.

Cap'n Bob said...

Yesterday--or maybe early this morning--I linked to Glen doing Gentle on my Mind, from YouTube. You can go to YouTube or connect to me at capnbob.blogspot.com.

DwWashburn said...

Glen and Jimmy Webb -- a match made in musical heaven.

Glen's work on the Monkees' "Mary Mary" is excellent. For many years I thought it was Glen playing the guitar solo in the Monkees' "Valerii" but found out when the CDs were released in the 80s that it wasn't.

Pat Reeder said...

It must be quite a while since you've been to Galveston. No oil wells on the beach there now. There are the Pleasure Pier and lots of restaurants and hotels by the seawall, and beyond that, oceanside homes for people who don't mind the occasional hurricane, and the Schlitterbahn water park and Moody Gardens theme park with a giant aquarium and a rainforest under huge glass pyramids. That side of the island is kind of like Vegas without the gambling. Inside the island, there are many beautifully restored historic homes and a downtown historic district with lots of seafood restaurants and attractions and a gorgeous turn-of-the-century theater. Laura and I used to go there every summer until our favorite B&B stopped accepting guests. Now, I've talked myself into wanting to go back to Galveston when I have to go to New York City next weekend. Rats!

DetroitGuy said...

Agree 100%. That song is devastatingly beautiful.