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":
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