by Drew Martin
Glen Campbell sang Rhinestone Cowboy back in 1975 when I was six years old. I feel like that song is in my DNA because I heard it when music just seemed like it was part of the atmosphere. Campbell was the first signer to win a Grammy award in both Country and Contemporary in the same year.
I just watched Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me, wow, what an amazing documentary. For one thing I got to rediscover how talented he is as a musician. The film really does a good job of expressing his gifts, such as his perfect-pitch tone (he was even in the Beach Boys to fill in after Brian Wilson had his nervous breakdown), and his great guitar playing (which I had not known about).
The focus on the film, however, is about his decline from Alzheimer's and how he and his family (who perform with him) struggle with the disease.
A little more than a year ago I wrote a blog post about Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory, a film about social worker Dan Cohen who visited America’s nursing homes in a quest to unlock the minds of people with dementia having them listen to music they liked in their youth. It is remarkable how unresponsive people all of a sudden come alive when they tune in.
This documentary about Campbell should be watched in tandem with Alive Inside, because it shows how this famous musician, who cannot recall the names of his closest family members or answer simple facts, can turn around, go onstage, and perform his songs in front of thousands of people.
Pictured above, Campbell and his talented daughter, Ashley, dueling it out onstage during his farewell tour.