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Born in Arkansas to a sharecropper daddy, Glen Campbell taught himself how to play guitar with some help from his Uncle Boo. He went on to release over 70 albums, 12 gold and one platinum, and some of the greatest pop records ever made. He has had 81 songs in the charts, sold over 45 million albums and played session guitar on some of the best songs ever written.
Be My Baby by The Ronettes. Strangers in the Night by Frank Sinatra. Good Vibrations by The Beach Boys. He owns a clutch of the most-played records in the history of radio: "Gentle On My Mind," "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," "Wichita Lineman," and oh, yeah, "Rhinestone Cowboy." Maybe you've heard of it.
In the summer of 2008, Glen released "Meet Glen Campbell," where he covered songs from U2, Lou Reed and Green Day. His version of the Replacement's " Sadly Beautiful" with its sweeping orchestration and Glen's voice, gorgeous, haunting, blows most contemporary singers out of the damn pond. You need to keep in mind that he is SEVENTY TWO years old on this song.
When " Meet Glen Campbell" was released, there were hints that he was starting to fade. He toured, he still played guitar beautifully but he was starting to forget things. In June, he announced that he has alzeihmer's disease, and that he was embarking on his "Goodbye Tour" in conjunction with "Ghost On The Canvas," which releases today. Do yourself a favor and get a copy.
The title track, written by Paul Westerberg, is a poignant farewell. Like Johnny Cash and Warren Zevon, who were sick and aware of their impending mortality, Cash from diabetes and Zevon from cancer, Campbell is giving us his goodbye while he still remembers how important he has been to music.
Alzehimer's is a horrible thief, stealing dignity, coordination, and one of the greatest gifts any of us can ever have, our memories. Like that sweet rhinestone prince, a lot of you deal with grandparents and parents who are fading before your eyes. For those of us who aren't, it's not too late to say "You were right," "I'm sorry" and "I love you" while your people can still understand it.
And to discover one of the greatest talents to ever walk this earth.