The Wichita Lineman is Still on the Line
The opening act was country-rockers Dawes backing the likes of Lucinda Williams, Kris Kristofferson and Jackson Browne who paid tribute to Glen in the form of covers. Glen's band was marvelous featuring his talented kids; his long-time keyboard player, T.J. Kuenster; and Harry Nilsson's kid Keith on bass. A real family affair.
Seeing Glen is tragic and uplifting simultaneously. He is suffering a decline due to Alzheimer's; and is the first major figure to battle it in public by continuing to do what he does: entertain. It is an act of bravery and a testament to God's Grace and the gifts He's seen fit to give Mr. Campbell. The set was astonishing. Glen was in fabulous voice throughout (can't say as much for David Lee Roth, whom we saw 2 weeks ago with Van Halen. A fun show, but not near this entertaining). He certainly has retained his television-friendly good looks in his blue western outfit and smooth blond hair. His guitar playing is still a marvel. The solo he tore through on True Grit was a highlight. Then there was Dueling Banjos with his daughter Ashley handling the banjo part.
At times, between numbers, Glen appeared to be in a reverie and needed the gentle guidance from song to song of his kids. But when he was singing or playing, he was in great form. Wichita Lineman and Rhinestone Cowboy were lots of fun. I really like his new album, so hearing the utterly heartbreaking Any Trouble live was a dream. The super-highlight for me was Southern Nights. That record was the first 45 I ever bought with my own money. Glen's version has always been one of my favorite recordings. A bone fide desert island disc. I know it meant much to me in 1977 when it hit #1 in the middle of the disco craze; so much so that I plunked down a hard-earned $0.96 for it. I still have that 45, nearly worn to zero groove. I had trouble singing along with any of Glen's tunes because it was so emotional. Thank goodness Glen didn't have any problems singing.
Admittedly, I wept through many songs; but not out of pity for Glen, but for what we as an audience are losing. Glen Campbell is one of the greatest entertainers, instrumentalists, and vocalists of any generation. We've been blessed to have him around. I encourage you, if you live in the vicinity of his last few shows: GO! We'll never see his likes again.
As a performer, we are always asking, pleading with the booker, the bar manager or the sound man, "One more? Do we have time for one more?" Glen kept thinking the show was over, but there was one more song to be played which surprised him... This happened repeatedly, the first time during the opening 15 minutes. Here's a man who is running out of time (aren't we all?); but relishing every minute of what he's got being on stage with his family.
Glen referenced the debt he owed to songwriter Jimmy Webb several times. That is a mutual debt. Webb's material benefits from the grandeur and country gentility that Glen Campbell infuses into any song. And tonight, the Wichita Lineman was absolutely still on the line.
God bless Glen Campbell.