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Rest In Peace Rhinestone Cowboy

Updated on August 9, 2017

When I look back to my troubled teen years, I know that music helped get me through some tough times. And his songs definitely helped.

I've been expecting the news that Glen Campbell had died since I followed his battle with Alzheimers until he was placed in a care facility a couple of years ago.

When we get older and begin looking back more than we look forward, we see those people who helped mold our lives. Those people aren't always close to us and often aren't even friends. In my case, Glen Campbell gave me a place to hide my pain as a young girl going through the trauma of her Dad's much too soon death from cancer and the subsequent turmoil of living with a mother who battled alcoholism.

Looking back, I know I didn't recognize that listening to music helped me escape. But I know that it did because when I remember those years, I see a teenage girl, wise beyond her years, who felt so many lyrics and melodies deep in her soul. And to this day, there are songs that when I hear them, still remind me of that sad time in my life.

Glen Campbell in those turbulent 1960's, sang songs which touched me. Gentle On My Mind, Wichita Lineman, and By The Time I Get To Phoenix played over and over again on my little record player as I struggled to find some meaning to my life.

Of course he could never know this, but lyrics like "and I need you more than want you and I want you for all time" were the stuff young and romantic girls were made of.

No story about Glen Campbell could be complete without giving due to Jimmy Webb who wrote so many of Glen's big hits and while others covered those songs, Glen Campbell was clearly the one who made them famous.

When the news came out that Glen was suffering from Alzheimer's, I read everything I could find on how he was doing. I felt a sadness knowing that his days were numbered and that soon all that would remain for his legion of fans were our worn out albums and 45's and our memories.

His album Ghost on Canvas, recorded after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's, featured a poignant song called "A Better Place" where Campbell looks back over his life, his mistakes and his triumphs as he looks forward to that better place.

Lyrics: A Better Place

I've tried and I've failed Lord
I've won and I have lost
I've lived and I've loved, Lord
Some times, at such a cost

One thing I know
The world is good to me
A better place awaits you'll see

Some days I'm so confused, Lord
My past gets in my way
I need the ones that I love, Lord
More and more each day

One thing I know
The world is good to me
A better place awaits you'll see

For anyone, like me, who is the least bit melancholy it's a prescient foretelling of what we all knew would be coming.

And there is also a beautiful collaberation between Glen and his old friend, Jimmy Webb, in Wish You Were Here.

And finally, and sadly is his Adios album recorded between 2012 and 2013 and just released in June of this year. The album features all of the gravitas one might expect from a music icon sending out his final farewell.

Perhaps the most beautiful and gut wrenching song from Glen is his goodbye song to his wife, Kim. In "I'm Not Gonna Miss You" the lyrics scream all of the pain and suffering that Alzheimer's patients and their families will go through. Celebrity is no exception. I highly recommend watching the film "I'll Be Me" which documents much of Glen's life and especially his diagnosis and subsequent life struggling with Alzheimer's. It also shows the love his children and wife have for him as they all adjust to what is and can never change.

I spent my teen years lost in music much of the time. Music is what helped me survive. There are definitely those artists who impacted my life much more than I realized back then. But now that I am who I am and where I am in my life, I covet those singers and song writers and lyrics and melodies for what they meant then, and what they mean now.

Rest easy, Mr. Campbell.



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