Saturday, June 25, 2011

Glen Campbell

News Item:
Glen Campbell announces that he has Alzheimer's Disease but he plans final album and tour
. (via Expecting Rain)

This century has killed a lot of country singers; Johnny Cash, Porter Wagoner, Waylon Jennings and, at some point yet undetermined it will take down Glen Campbell. Campbell, one time Beach Boy, One time TV host, long time superstar and frequent source of tabloid-fodder, played one of my least favourite variants of what we call country music. Some called it Countrypolitan, some called it The Nashville Sound and others sneered it off as Nash-Trash. This sound, heard in Campbell's hits like "Galveston" and "Wichita Lineman" featured the songs of professional pop tunesmiths and a glossy production style awash in strings. But the man's voice and his hard-twanging guitar always cut through the bullshit. Plus there is something about the way Campbell responds so deeply to those mad songs of Jimmy Webb, which often seem to obey no laws of song-writing (has a song as infernally elliptical as "Wichita Lineman" ever entered the narrative-happy country charts? Does anything at all happen in "By the Time I Get to Phoenix"?) I often find common ground between my love of country music and punk rock on account of there simplicity and directness but Glen Campbell, while plenty capable of playing it simple and direct, was never afraid of pomp. And that courage will help him rage against the dying of the light.

Here's Glen Campbell and Stevie Wonder doing Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind":


  1. I was fine with Little Green Apples, Galveston, Wichita Lineman, By The Time I Get To Phoenix, Gentle on My Mind, Dreams of the Everyday Housewife.

    Campbell was all over the pop charts and on TV but he had street cred, he'd played with the Beach Boys and been a session player on a lot on what are now classic rock hits.

    He faded from the pop charts after 1969 and that was fine too, rock was growing beyond those bubblegum ditties that got us through the early years.

    Then came Southern Nights and Rhinestone Cowboy. The man can NEVER be forgiven for inflicting those to pieces of junk on the public. I could almost forgive the first, but he sealed his fate with the second. You'll notice that he took an immediate and precipitous drop from all the charts after that. It's not only me that became disgusted with that pumpkin headed boy.

    Probably the only man that would come in second in a comparison with Kenny Rogers.

  2. re: last comment, don't forget Glen was also a comedian, a good golfer...but most of all a good singer/guirarist. perhaps 'RhineStone' was a goof, a put on,a fun thing.
    just sayin'

  3. Hey Jeffen

    Glen Campbell's big hits of the late 1960s sounded excellent on radio.They did not inspire me to buy any of his singles or albums then but I did buy a few of his albums when they were reissued(remasters)last year.

    Presently I do not listen to much 'punk rock'.I recommend recent albums by Dave Alvin,Matraca Berg,Joe Ely,The Jeffersons and Blackie & the Rodeo Kings.

    I always pull out Art Bergmann and TV Smith!Both deserved so much more success.

    And I like jazz trumpeter Terell Stafford's new album.

    Oh yeah, I did watch Glen Campbell's TV Show.


  4. I found the "Rhinestone Cowboy"-era stuff grating on my ears and sensibilities at the time -- maybe because the earlier work was already sort of iconic....but, upon reflection, can I hold it against the guy any more than some of the Vegas excesses of Elvis, or much of Rod Stewart's recordings, etc.? Glen Campbell has always been phenomenally talented, a great showman, and, like others, maybe at times his own worst enemy...still, as an ol' boy from down around Delight, Arkansas (not too far down the road from where I sit), he done alright, I reckon.

    Thanks, again, for your blog and all the cool stuff you bring to our attention.

    Great clip with Stevie, by the way.

  5. Thanks for the comments:

    I do prefer those sixties hits but as one who was 8 when "Rhinestone Cowboy" came out It will always have a place in my heart and in my skull. And "Southern Nights" is pretty execrable by any standards.

  6. I always liked his music..a little country, a little rock....still have his JP's down the songs on the LP that were not number one, like "some day soon" and "time,good,good,time"...awsome guitar late brother in law said he played at his baptist church in him....don

  7. Don
    And the new album sounds good too.

  8. I loved him then and forever!
    Deb Brooks

  9. Rhinestone - always makes me think of Senator Edward Kennedy when he accidentally drove his car off the Chappaquiddick bridge and failed to help his female passenger, who died.

    Driving "like a blind stoned cowboy" ...


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