America lost troubadour songster and movie and TV figure Glen Campbell on Tuesday in Nashville at 81. Some of the songs that made Campbell famous constituted part of the soundtrack of Americans’ lives during his performance years, and long afterward. A number of them were in the category of music that when one heard the first, instrumental line, one knew and anticipated with pleasure what was coming.
His song “Wichita Lineman” caught deftly not only the sense but also the mentality of a mainstream American, what he wanted and needed, and how he approached life. The son of an Arkansas sharecropper, Campbell sang from his not-easy life experience, which included poverty, alcohol and drug abuse, and three divorces, as well as performing success. It also included eight living children, many grandchildren and even great-great-grandchildren.
He was a consummate musician. He played guitar, banjo, mandolin and bass, and apparently had perfect pitch, even though he couldn’t read music.
In his final years, Campbell suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. But he turned that into a public service, continuing to perform and demonstrating full frankness about that awful disease. In the process, he called attention and research money to it.
Glen Campbell will remain gentle on our minds.
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE