Posted on 12/24/11
Written by James Downing
I have told the story here on Concert Blast about how my dad brought home a record player one day when I was about seven years old. That day changed my life forever and opened the world of music up to me. My mom was a big country music fan and would buy many records. She would sit in my bedroom with me and we would listen to many of them. Loretta Lynn, Bing Crosby, Donna Fargo and the list goes on and on. There was one album that she bought that I really liked and that was a Glen Campbell album. My favorite song off that album was called “Gentle On My Mind”. I soon discovered that this guy had his own tv show each week and I would watch it everytime it came on. As I grew up and started listening to rock and roll music, Glen Campbell’s music remained on my record player along side Alice Cooper, The Who, Kiss and all of the other bands that I listened to.
Now it is 2011 and my mom is no longer here but my love for the sound of Glen Campbell remains. I read on the internet that Glen had been recently been digonised with Alzheimer’s Disease. The story said that he had finished recording his final album and was going on a tour which would be a farewell to his fans. Having never seen him before, I was very happy that the tour was going to bring him to The Ryman Auditorum on Nov 30, 2011. This concert sold out so fast that they added a second show as well. Finally I was going to see Glen Campbell, a man who’s music meant so much to me as a child.
I arrived at The Ryman just a few minutes before the show started. When I got to my seat the lights went down and the opening act, Instant People, played a 30 minute set. This band is also Glen’s back up band and includes his three kids Cal, Shannon and Ashley. They sounded really good and got the crowd ready for what was about to come.
After a short intermisson the lights dimmed again. The band took their places on stage and from the right hand side of the stage out walked Mr Glen Campbell. Before he got to the center of the stage to put on his guitar everyone in the crowd rose to their feet to welcome a historic country music icon to The Ryman. The first song that he did was that song that I listened to with my mom so very many times, “Gentle On My Mind”. Glen uses a teleprompter on stage, because of his Alzheimer’s he has trouble remembering the words to songs sometimes. About halfway thru the first verse of the song he stopped and said his teleprompter wasn’t turned on. The stage crew corrected this and they started the song again and you would never think Glen had any problems at all. This was one of the main songs I wanted to hear and I thought it was great that he chose it to open with.
For the rest of the night it was hit after hit. The next song of the evening was a huge hit for Glen, “Galveston” which got a huge response from the Sold-Out house. Glen told the audience how great it was to be playing The Ryman and thanked everyone for coming. The band broke into the opening notes of “Try A Little Tenderness” which was one of my favorites songs of the night. Before the next song Glen once again said how glad he was to be at The Ryman and said “Elvis should have recored this song”. Doing his best impression of the King, Glen started singing the Conway Twitty hit “It’s Only Make Believe”.
Glen was a session musician in the 50s and 60s, playing on many records as a member of the “wrecking crew” which also included Hal Blaine and Leon Russell among others. One thing that I noticed early on this night was the fact that Glen might have needed a teleprompter to remember the words to songs but he could still play a guitar like no one else. I guess some things get embedded in your mind and you don’t forget them no matter what. Just watching him pick his guitar you would never know he had Alzheimer’s.
Glen offered up several more of his hits with “Where’s The Playground Suzie”, “Dreams Of The Everyday Housewife” and another favorite of mine “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” and the crowd loved each and every note of these songs. Glen then started telling about what a big fan he was of this man’s music without saying who he was talking about. His keyboard player said “Who’s music? Tell them who’s music you are talking about”. Glen said “Oh, Hank Williams”, and told about how he goes into the kitchen to get something and by the time he get there he’s forgot what he went to get. The crowd laughed and he started singing Hank’s “Lovesick Blues” and Glen’s voice sounded great on this song.
Glen’s daugther Ashley put on a banjo and asked her dad if he wanted to duel a little and he said yes. She then said “Are you ready?” and he answered back “I was born ready” as they broke into “Dueling Banjo’s”. After this song Glen left the stage and the band played a song called “Hey Little One.” Ashley told The Ryman that this song was a song from her dads album “By The Time I Get To Phoenix.” She said this was the first country album to ever win a Grammy Award which was a fact I was not aware of.
Cal Campbell announced from the stage that his dad was now going to do a few songs from his latest album “Ghost On The Canvas” which included the title track along with two others, “It’s Your Amazing Grace” and “Any Trouble.” Although these songs were not familiar to me, I really did enjoy hearing them and it made me go out several days later and buy a copy of this album. The title track “Ghost On The Canvas” was written by Paul Westerberg and made the hair on my arms stand on end.
Glen then gave us some more hits after these new songs. The first was “Southern Nights” which was a huge country and pop hit for him in the 70′s. Next was the Jimmy Webb song “The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress.” He followed those with two of his biggest hits “Wichita Lineman” and “Rhinestone Cowboy.” Glen left the stage as the crowd gave him another standing ovation.
Of course the show wasn’t over yet. Glen Campbell came back on stage and finished the night with two more songs from “Ghost On The Canvas.” The first one was the uptempo “In My Arms” followed by the haunting “A Better Place.” Glen then took his final bows to The Ryman crowd that was still of their feet.
This has to be one of my favorite shows of 2011. I had always wanted to see this man but never got the chance. I was glad I got to see him before he retired.
I have to admit Glen’s voice was not as strong as it once was, and this can be expected with age, and the guitar picking had to be seen to be believed. The fact that this man is facing a terrible life shattering disease, he is out on the road giving his fans what they want one more time earns Glen Campbell’s show at The Ryman a 10.0 on the Concert Blast Scale.
Thank you Glen for all the years of wonderful songs.
This show will remain in my mind forever!!!
Written By James Downing
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Tags: 11/30/2011, Alzheimer’s Disease, Ashley Campbell, blog, Cal Campbell, concert blast, concertblast, Glen Campbell Concert Review, Glen Campbell Farewell Tour, Glen Campbell Goodbye Tour, Instant People, James Downing, Nashville, Ryman Auditorium, Shannon Campbell, TN