Will Rogers, once stated that, “I never (yet) met a man I didn’t like.” Most people have taken that out of context. If they look at his full statement he adds, “… if I had a chance to meet him.”
This happened to me with the recent passing of singer / guitarist Glen Campbell. I read many of the tributes and interviews and got up to date with the history of the man – like you would in an interview.
Initially, I found his Rhinestone Cowboy music video – he’s riding a star-spangled rodeo horse and decked out in a glittering cowboy getup – to be incongruous, as set against the reality of what I knew as serious world-wide issues. It seemed that everything they said about showbiz was true: you have to get through the superficial tinsel in order to find the real tinsel.
And, because of that perceived lack of credibility, I wrongly misjudged the man and his great talent and achievements. As imperfect human beings, we’re the first to ask for forgiveness and understanding; but, are we the first to extend it?
Of course, music insiders knew him as a virtuoso guitarist – who Alice Cooper said was one of the five best in the music business. Despite not being able to read music, Campbell was in great demand as a session musician – from Sinatra to the Beach Boys – and could hold his own with anyone.
Then, there was his pitch-perfect, warm tonal voice that made him a household name with such hits as Galveston, Wichita Lineman, By the Time I Get to Phoenix, Gentle on My Mind, and of course Rhinestone Cowboy – over 45 million in sales, six Grammy awards, his own national TV show, plus acted in a movie opposite John Wayne.
Yet, his demons were many: his cross addiction to cocaine and alcohol – with three failed marriages – hard times like he sang about in Rhinestone Cowboy.
“There’s been a load of compromisin’ / On the road to my horizon /
But I’m gonna be where the lights are shining on me”
His salvation? With the faithful help and love of his fourth wife, Kim, he beat the booze, beat the drugs, became Christian and was there – and along with his five grown children – announcing he had Alzheimer’s and was doing a final ‘Goodbye’ tour. It was a sellout as fans welcomed the chance to honour this crossover legend.
The family’s ultimate aim was to bring awareness and support for Alzheimer’s victims and their caregivers: careliving.org
But, before Alzheimer’s reached its final stage, he co-wrote ‘I’m Not Gonna Miss You.’
“I’m still here, but yet I’m gone / I don’t play guitar or sing my song…
I’m never gonna know what you go through / All the things I say or do”
As psychiatrist Victor Frankl observed in his book ‘A Man’s Search for Meaning’, men like Campbell were “worthy of their suffering.” Can anyone ask more?
Perhaps, just a breath away, Glen Campbell’s riding tall in the saddle… again.
Riding high again – Fair Use
Feature image – crop from video
Guest Author Bio
Fred Parry lives in Southern Ontario. He is a lover of people and a collector of stories, music, wisdom, and grandchildren. His newspaper column, Music in Me, can be found in ‘The New Hamburg Independent’ Metroland Media. His book, ‘The Music In Me’ (2013) Friesen Press is Available from Amazon and Indigo / Chapters.
Blog / Website: www.fredparry.ca