I took a train ride over to Albany Thursday. Nothing too important. Just saying goodbye to another piece of my childhood.
You may know that Glen Campbell announced last year that he has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. Since then he has released his final studio album, Ghost On The Canvas, and set off on a Goodbye Tour.
Glen’s show at The Egg Thursday night was one I debated attending.
On the one hand, here’s a guy who’s TV show, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, I enjoyed as a young boy (in fact, I was surprised to find I was just shy of 8 years old when it went off the air…I didn’t recall being that young when it was on). It is one of the TV shows I specifically recall watching at my father’s house, but that’s a story for another time.
As a “serious” music fan, I also love a good number of Glen’s songs. I haven’t followed his career closely enough to have earned the title of “fan,” but “Wichita Lineman” and “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” have been among my favorite songs by anyone for most of my lifetime. I have always respected his talent, as a singer and as a guitarist, and been drawn to his charisma and charm.
My apprehension about going to the show had a lot to do with worrying about worst case scenarios. Much of this dread came from my own experiences as my beloved grandfather battled Alzheimer’s. I saw some of his mannerisms and coping mechanisms when I saw Glen in interviews. What if he forgets all the words? Or where he is? Or who is on stage with him? Or who the heck we are, sitting there staring at him? In fact, watching and reading interviews with him over the past 8 months or so didn’t put those concerns to rest.
Part of me thought Glen’s last time out on the road was tremendously courageous, while another part of me wondered if he knew well enough what he was doing for it to be.
Ultimately, it didn’t really matter much.
That the man I saw and read about in those interviews is the same man who stepped on stage and sang and played for 70 minutes Thursday night is all I, or anyone, should need to know about the therapeutic power of music. Frankly, I don’t have earlier concert experiences with which to compare, but I find it nothing short of miraculous that Glen Campbell can entertain the way he is, despite his illness. He’s clearly not the same, but he’s miles from where he would be.
One of the things I heard Glen say in more than one recent interview is that he had a TV show watched by millions, and he sold a lot of records, and those things were great, but that all he ever really wanted to do was go around the country and sing and play music.
So, he’s getting what he always wanted.
One last time.
We should all be so lucky.