Musical Monday: Glen Campbell channeling the spirit of Roy Orbison #MondayBlogs #GlenCampbell #RoyOrbison

When I was a teenager I enjoyed watching the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour with my neighbor. I wasn’t a fan of Campbell, but I had a crush on John Hartford, the quiet banjo picker who wrote Campbell’s signature song, Gentle on My Mind. Campbell was quite popular in those days; I never felt I could escape him. When a brother-in-law gave me guitar lessons, I plucked away at the Witchita Lineman or By the Time I Get to Phoenix. I had no ear for music, didn’t know how to tune a guitar and then my sister and brother-in-law divorced. For me, a face-saving end to an unpromising musical career.

I occasionally heard of Campbell after his career seemed to stall amid some troubles: a tabloid-esque affair with Tanya Tucker, cocaine, DUIs. I resented how he had presented himself as such a good old boy when he was no better than the rest. And then, in 2011, I heard he had Alzheimer’s and all I could think was, “Oh, no, not him.”

I had grown up with Glen Campbell. My complicated feelings toward him, I realized, were so much like the complicated feelings I have toward anyone I’ve grown up with. He was like that much older brother that you regularly get pissed off with, but can’t quite turn your back on.

Sometime after his death, I had an opportunity to watch a documentary about Campbell, I’ll Be Me. I watched the first thirty minutes and then turned it off. That’s not how I want to remember him.

Recently I came across this video. Roy Orbison is another favorite of mine, and I love Campbell’s rendition. More than that, I love watching Campbell’s joy in singing and playing. That’s how I’ll remember him.

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15 thoughts on “Musical Monday: Glen Campbell channeling the spirit of Roy Orbison #MondayBlogs #GlenCampbell #RoyOrbison

  1. My mom loved Glen Campbell! She was young, only 20 years old when she had me, and so she loved the more tame music of the 60s. There are a few songs that give me weird feelings. I think they must be associated in my “music brain” with something in the past that gives me anxiety. This song is one of them. Beautiful song, but there it is.

  2. Roy Orbison is one of my favorite singers of all time. Glen’s rendition of “Crying” was an excellent tribute to Roy. I had not seen this video before and was amazed at all the stars including Willie Nelson on that stage, Thank you, Marie.

  3. I hadn’t realized that he was also part of The Wrecking Crew–that stable of awesome session musicians in L.A. in the ’60s–till I saw that documentary about them. He’s playing on a lot of famous records, but he also had huge hits of his own back then. I especially remember hearing “Wichita Lineman” a lot. Seems like the ’70s knocked him about quite a bit!

    • Yeah, the documentary really opened my eyes about his career. Up until then I just wrote him off as another pretty boy cowboy. The 70s knocked a lot of people around I guess. Did you ever see the documentary on Harry Nilsson?

  4. I grew up watching Glenn Campbell Goodtime Hour and Hee Haw with my parents. I remember singing Rhinestone Cowboy while riding my skateboard. It was sad how his life ended.

    • Oh, my goodness, Hee Haw! Yup, that was on in our house too! It was so sad to hear he had Alzheimer’s and I think his family went through a lot to try and keep him home, but he had so much love and support from them.

  5. I never watched him–and I don’t even remember his show. The way he was kind of “packaged” at that time didn’t appeal to me, and it was only recently that I realized how gifted he was. He was an amazing musician, and it was so sad the way his life ended–except that it seems that he had music nearly till the end.

    • Yes, yes! Packaged is the right word, but like you, I didn’t realize what a great musician he was until I watched his documentary (well, the beginning of it). I believe he was enjoying his music pretty close to the end. I read somewhere that when his family finally gave in to having him live in a 24/7 care facility, he continued to play guitar there and he was his happiest when he was playing.

      • Yes, I didn’t watch the documentary, but I heard some stories on NPR. I think I also remember hearing the same thing. I guess he couldn’t remember all the words, but with his muscle memory he continued to play the notes. And now, I really do like his voice and admire his skill.

  6. My parents used to have Glenn Campbell’s show on. I remember hearing “Gentle on My Mind.”
    Great video! A classic song!

    • Thank, Linda. I felt lucky coming across the video. Campbell’s show was popular in my house, but then we only had three channels to choose from. I always enjoyed his guests … and John Hartford ;

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