So, how can it be so? Glen Campbell is 75 years old. How does a poor Delight, Arkansas sharecropper's son (one of 12 kids) become an iconic singer and musician in an amazing career spanning 50 years?
How did he produce hit after hit, selling millions of records, many with songwriter Jimmy Webb? Then, he was chosen to act in his first film with John Wayne in "True Grit." In the Coen Brothers film, starring Jeff Bridges, I missed Glen's theme song most of all.
Was he sprinkled with fairy dust when he was able to get those slouches, Rob Reiner and Steve Martin, as writers for The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour television show on CBS? It could be hokey and corny -- but, I'd rather watch that program than the quivering, collagen-filled lips of Beverly Hills Housewives pretending to mourn the loss of someone's life.
Glen, always a superb and multifaceted performer, played on numerous recordings, including some of Phil Spector's -- oh, and I can't wait to see Al Pacino playing that nutjob! He also worked with Bobby Darin, Dean Martin, Elvis and the Beach Boys.
I had the good fortune (courtesy of my cousin, Glen's Musical Director & Pianist, TJ Kuenster) of seeing him in his one and only appearance at The Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago. He relayed the story of playing a studio session with Frank Sinatra on "Strangers in the Night," and he couldn't help but stare in awe of the legendary singer, when Frank asked: "Who's the queer?"
Several years ago, my sister sat next to "Bob" Ritchie at a Glen Campbell concert in Detroit. They chatted, and he said that lots of great guitarists always knew that Glen was a fabulous musician. My sister had no idea that "Bob" was Kid Rock!
Glen's new release, Ghost on the Canvas, comes after a really fine CD, Meet Glen Campbell -- both offering touching, lots-of-life lived moments. He really was so much more than that awful mug shot from a few years back. I loved that he decided to play a concert for his fellow prisoners, too. Talk about having a front row seat to a Country-Rock music star and all-around charismatic performer.
It is so refreshing to hear someone in the business for so long really appreciate where he's come from, where he's been and the incredible his journey he has taken -- always expressing his gratitude to hard-working parents -- yet, realizing that he would rather be singing "Rhinestone Cowboy," "Gentle on My Mind" and "Wichita Lineman" five million times rather than picking cotton!
With the diagnosis of Alzheimer's, he may need a teleprompter on stage for his "Goodbye Tour" -- but, he can still play, he can still sing, he has loads of charm and good humor -- and I defy anyone NOT to sing along with him to "Southern Nights."
Somehow, it never gets old.
".....and the Wichita Lineman is still on the line...."