Glen Campbell shines in 1st appearance since Alzheimer’s news

‘Wichita Lineman’, Glen Campbell

Based on an AP story: Glen Campbell leaned over his blue electric guitar, plucked a few strings and made a sour face.

“Dadgum it,” he said.

Campbell, 75, fiddled a few seconds longer while standing backstage Friday night at the IP Casino and finally found a perfect D chord.

“There it is,” he said, before turning on his heel and marching into the spotlight. He launched into “Gentle on my Mind” and — without so much as clearing his throat — nailed it.

“That first one is a doozey, ain’t it?” Campbell asked the crowd.

It was classic Glen Campbell. Alzheimer’s disease may have changed a lot of things in the Country Music Hall of Famer’s life, but his ability to create sounds that still resonate in our shared memory with his blue G&L Comanche on “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” or his Hamer 12-string on “Southern Nights” is virtually untouched.

In the night’s finest moment, Campbell brought the crowd to its feet after nailing the delicate runs in the middle of his classic “Wichita Lineman.”

Campbell’s first performance since announcing he has Alzheimer’s, the degenerative brain disease that’s slowly robbing him of his memories and abilities, was largely a triumph. His family and road crew were worried he might be rusty after a long layoff since his last performance. Campbell and his band powered through a tight 22-song set interspersed with self-deprecating jokes.

“I tell you I’m happy to be here,” Campbell said. “At my age I’m happy to be anywhere. It seems like I’ve been doing this since Hitler was a corporal.”

Campbell was loose and easy-going all day, joking his way through rehearsal and posing for pictures with fans before and after the show.

It seems Glen Campbell has been around my whole life. Like so many icons, he’s just always there. It would be easy to dismiss him, but this is a man who besides becoming his own star, would “sit in” with the Beach Boys just to fulfill a creative itch.

It’s not easy to get older. It’s not easy to grow past your prime. And, imagining the horror of Alzheimer’s, to take the big stage and live up to the legend that is only Campbell is beyond courage.

While I may not be the biggest “Glen Campbell” fan per se, I do celebrate Glen Campbell. Listen to the clip at the beginning and end of this post.

This is courage. This is artistry. This is heart.

Glen Campbell – Rhinestone Cowboy