Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ghost on the Canvas

I know I am aging myself, but I grew up in an era where variety shows were the best reality tv going. You could weekly watch Johnny Cash take the stage and say "Hi. I'm Johnny Cash." We could also weekly hear Moon River crooned as Andy Williams and his family and friends entertained us along with shows from Perry Como, Dean Martin and many others. At Christmas time we could always count on specials from Perry Como, Bob Hope and my yearly favorite.....Bing Crosby. It was a simple time with perceived simple values where music reigned king in my home and my parents never had to worry about what I was watching on tv because there were only three stations and in our house....only one tv. Of all my favorite variety shows though...the one that had me sprawled out in front of the tv and begging my parents to turn it on every week, was always the Glen Campell Goodtime Hour. I simply adored this man and my parents were at a loss as to why.

Even at my young age, I knew the pureness of Campbell's voice and he could lull me with songs like Wichita Lineman and Gentle on My Mind. Perhaps the reason though that I was so fascinated by him was that to me, he looked very much like my dad (albeit a slightly younger version). My parents were going through and had been going through a horrific marriage breakup for several years and my dad was not at his best as a father or a husband, but when I saw Campbell on stage....his physical resemblance was close enough that in my mind he was the perfect father figure I wished I had.

Perhaps because of my emotional attachment to this man and the fact that his voice was like no other..... I have been a fan since the late 60's. I have followed him through 45's, LP's, eight tracks, cassett's, CD's and now itunes. In every stack, mix tape or play list I have ever had....Glen Campbell has had a place. Galveston and Southern Nights have woven themselves into the tapestry of my life and have attached themselves to some wonderful memories.

Yes...I know that Campbell's perfection was only in my mind and I watched as he sped out of control and hit a wall during the Tucker years....the years of booze and pills and bad choices. And I forgave him as we all forgive those whose talent eclipses their life and their art becomes intertwined with their ego causing one or both to crash and burn. Sadly I was probably more forgiving of this man and his bad choices than I was of my real father figure. Of course my real dad could never make me smile like RockaDoodle did.

Through the decades I have remained a loyal fan and have introduced my son to this voice. While Z see's only a slight resemblance to his grandfather he, like me......appreciates the beautiful gift which Campbell possesses and the way his songs can stir the soul.

Not long ago....a friend of mine who is a classic country dj was talking to me about the different cc stars and Campbells name was brought up. He then told me that Campbell had been diagnosed with alzheimer and with this diagnosis was embarking on a farewell tour. I felt sucker punched at the news. I know....ridiculous being that stars fall from the entertainment sky all the time. But as you can well imagine....for me it was different....because emotionally his face and his voice connected with me back in the late 60's and through the years he had remained a part of the soundtrack of my life. I was legitimately sad.

A couple of weeks ago I happened to turn on my tv (which coincidentally now has somewhere in the range of 200 channels and I was watching on one of our 3 home tv's) and I saw a tribute to Campbell. I hadn't seen the man in years and me...he still looks like my dad. Campbell sat in the audience and watched as the different stars accompanied by his song writer Jimmy Webb played one Campbell hit after another. The camera would pan to him and you could see the joy in his eyes that he had touched so many people and that now they were paying tribute to his life of work. After all....isn't that what every true artistic being touch someone with their work? It also struck me as tragically sad, for maybe not tomorrow or even next week.....but someday very soon, he won't remember that night. He won't remember Gentle on My Mind or the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour or all those singers who paid tribute to him. I won't lie....there were tears.

So this morning I turn on CMT and low and behold who do I see but Glen Campbell. He has a new song out and I was mesmerized. Not only did the words of his song touch me (his voice still has the ability to capture me) but the video was beautiful. So beautiful in fact that again....yes....there were tears. Why all the emotion? I think in some strange way it is because he is emotionally tied up with my father and my feelings for and about him. Maybe too my mind still remembers Campbell as a young man and the video captures glimpses of that man while also reminding us that youth was fleeting and has been replaced by time, age and in his case.....some hard living. Still though it was amazing. This man who has such an awful disease is not going down without a fight and I for one would expect nothing less.


Anonymous said...

My childhood favorite was Red Skelton. He could find the bright side of any story. And he always added a loving measure of compassion in his entertainment. To him, laughter was medicine. The best medicine. A medicine he never poisoned with vulgarity of crudeness.

I try to do they same with my humor towards my friends and the ones I love. Honestly, its with the ones that I don't like or trust is where my compassion and humor fails. Often miserably.

Thanks for the wonderful blog and the dose of good memories. Keep them coming. Your writing has a way of making the present a little brighter.

Steve J.

Marni said...

Mine was Michael Landon.....I just could eat h anything the he was in. My favorite was Little House on the Prairie. I jus thought he was the very best father and dreamed that he was my father. I loved the way that he was on the show and how he was with his actor children. I knew it was a part that he played but my mind couldn't wrap itself around that.
I loved your blog today Girl!!!!

Anonymous said...

Nice read, but you didn't mention Glen's best song: Country Boy... got it on my iphone. The song has real meaning.
Jim S.

Glenn said...

I had tickets to see Glen Campbell in Topeka. Twice. He cancelled both shows (at the last minute) for health reasons. At the time, we didn't know what the health reasons were. Later I found out he had Alzheimer's and that he would only be doing two more shows. One in L.A. and one very small one somewhere basically unannounced. I was devastated. It's not that I listened to the music he made later in life. I never cared for the songs. But I always respected his voice, his charisma, and his ability to play guitar. The man was good. Mainly he just chose his women and some of his friends poorly. Anyway, it took me a while to read your blog, so maybe you'll never see this comment--I don't know how the blogs work--but another connection, for sure.