I came to the Glen Campbell story a little late. In 1975 he had his last burst of chart activity with what was to become his theme song - Rhinestone Cowboy. It was big back then. I remember it and loved it.
Rhinestone Cowboy is an interesting song in that it deals with an urban loser who dreams of becoming one of those rodeo riders, all decked out in a glittering cowboy outfit with fake gems and big smile for the crowds.
In a way - obvious connection never eschewed - that was how Glen Campbell was; a synthetic cowboy hiding some real grief and a more complex oeuvre than the good ole country boy image he got pigeon holed with. He was so much more than country music.
He was a session guitarist in LA playing with the ubiquitous Wrecking Crew of musicians employed by the studios to provide the backing to thousands of hits. I knew he played on The Righteous Brothers songs and lots of surf music but did you know he also played the guitar on Sinatra's Strangers in The Night?
He also had a high voice. This voice got him a stint in the Beach Boys in the mid 60's when Brian Wilson was cooling his toes off in the sand and the touring group needed another harmony. Indeed, it was Brian who gave Campbell his first solo single, the Beach Boysesque - Guess I'm Dumb. This would have slotted nicely into Pet Sounds. It was a failure.
It was another songwriter however that Campbell will forever be associated with - Jimmy Webb. This is where the career defining hits came in - Galveston, By the Time I get to Phoenix and the ever brilliant, never bettered, written in 20 minutes, Wichita Lineman.
For those that follow my videos on YouTube (er, that's probably just me) well you'd know that Wichita Lineman is one of those songs I like to whip out when a guitar and the occasion merits it. This major / minor key song is classy, and Campbell's yearning voice, never fails to send shivers down the spine when he sings:
Simple and yet beautiful - the first line cueing up effortlessly the second. Songwriting gold, my friends.
Other favourites from my Glen Campbell list - some well known, others not - are Where's The Playground Susie, If This Is Love, Time, Dreams of the Everyday Housewife, London. If you want to hear how Campbell interprets a song, how his easy style masks virtuosity, listen to his version of Only Make Believe.
From what I've read and from interviews I've watched, Campbell comes across as a nice guy with a prodigious talent. I'm proud to say I was a fan.
Oh, and I like this one from Glen Campbell's TV show 1970. HIs guest is Neil Diamond. They do a rocking version of Thank The Lord for The Nighttime.
And yes I realise that Glen Campbell wasn't on my list of obituaries... What can I say, some flexibility in my subject matter is important...