With the sad news that Glen Campbell is being moved to a care facility due to the progression of his Alzheimer’s, I wanted to take a look back on some of his best music. I was always a fan but I became a super fan with the release of his final studio CD.
When I heard Glen Campbell’s 2011 CD “Ghost on the Canvas” I remember thinking how brilliant the songwriting and production were. Each song paid tribute to elements of his earlier hits. The instrumentation of the album borrowed and built on his past success.
The release of this CD was also a bittersweet moment for Glen and everyone who loves him and his music. The news of his Alzheimer’s diagnosis rocked his fans worldwide and made this last studio album of original material so much more poignant. Producer Julian Raymond captured this swansong CD so perfectly, it brought me to tears!
Listening to “Ghost on the Canvas” made me want to rediscover all those classic Glen Campbell songs! I scoured Youtube and Spotify to find all of his earlier recordings. I found some gems that put a huge smile on my face with each listen…and relisten. Here are my favorite Glen Campbell songs:
“Ghost On The Canvas” – Written by Paul Westerberg, the song itself stands on its own as a beautiful and melancholy study of our thoughts on the afterlife. With production elements that pay homage to “Wichita Lineman” including the guitar solo and syncopated, high pitched keyboard, the song is brought to a new level. Glen’s haunting vocal shows that he was still at the top of his game.
“Rhinestone Cowboy” – The song was both a country and pop number one smash. Written by Larry Weiss, it tells the story of a singer who is determined to survive and succeed. Glen identified with the lyrics and decided to record it after hearing the song on Australian radio. the soaring chorus and hopeful lyrics still make me want to sing along at the top of my lungs.
“Wichita Lineman” – Written by Jimmy Webb, this song transcends genres. With its soaring strings and existential themes, the song is made even greater with Glen’s clear, warm tones. I remember hearing this song as a child and not “getting it” both in terms of the lyric and the song structure. I so get it now! This is, in my opinion, his best song!
“By The Time I Get To Phoenix” – Another Brilliant composition from Jimmy Webb, Glen made it a hit in 1967. The sadness of Glen’s voice and the instrumentation add to the lyrics of feeling unloved and finally moving on.
“Hold On Hope” – Also on “Ghost On The Canvas”, and originally by “Guided By Voices”, “Hold On Hope” is a pop gem with Glen proving that even this late in his life, his vocals are as strong as ever! The lyrics offer hope in the face of desperation and the sparkling guitars and crisp background vocals only add to that feeling.
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If you’re a fan of Glen Campbell, you may want to check out singer/songwriter Phil Dutra and get free song downloads! As the Atlanta weekly Creative Loafing says, Phil Dutra delivers “Passionate performances of some truly catchy songs”!