You all heard it, the Rhinestone Cowboy song which plays alongside so many great hits on the times gone by music radio stations of the UK. It’s the token Country Music brand of this island, up there with Cotton Eye Joe and Islands in the Stream. It’s all I really knew about Glen Campbell apart from the Classic that is Wichita Lineman, so when I sat down after Sunday lunch yesterday, my parents put on the most heart breaking, sad and surreal documentary I think I will ever see. It follows this wonderful musician, his family and band adapting and changing because of Alzheimer’s disease.
To watch some of the old footage of this talented musician and dedicated father was unreal, and to hear some of the great songs he sung and the many players he played with over the years just cemented what an important part of music history he is. Watching a man slowly being taken over by a disease that takes away your memory, but in defiance, he strapped on that guitar and played, and man could he play, really made your hairs stand on end. Before I started songwriting I learnt other artists songs on my guitar like most people do but now I appreciate even more so some of the country players of past and present. Watching Glen go over scales and chords like its just installed, a natural reaction was inspiring. He never looked to struggle until the very end of the tour by which time he seemed to just stay calm and carry on playing with the help of his band. It was truly heart warming and heartbreaking at the same time when Glen’s daughter, Ashley Campbell strapped on her banjo and they duelled like the old movie, one of the finest moments of the documentary. I feel I have arrived late to a very long party but I’m so glad I arrived with plenty of time to enjoy the music.
Go grab a record or use the link below to Spotify and listen to this wonderful voice and player. His daughter Ashley Campbell is making roots of her own and her song “Remembering” has the most honest lyrics you will ever hear. Beauty in a song and beauty in the lyrics, just perfect.