Lessons learned thanks to Glen Campbell

When country music superstars age, their legacy seems to fade away.  New music trends threaten the historic figures of yesterday.  However, for some, they tend to not give up even when medical reasons force them to stop playing.

Glen Campbell, whose greatest hits include ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’ and ‘Whitchita Lineman,’ has beat the trends and continues to win awards and recognition to this day.  Most recently, he was honored with a Grammy for ‘I’m Not Going to Miss You.’  The Band Perry received an award for their version of Campbell’s hit song, ‘Gentle On My Mind.’  Tonight, he is up for an Oscar for the song ‘I’m Not Going to Miss You,’ from the movie, “I’ll Be Me” depicting his daily life and struggles with Alzheimer’s.

Our eyes were opened wide when we saw the affects that Alzheimers has not only on the patient, but the caregivers, and medical community.  Rather than give up when first diagnosed, Glen Campbell went on tour for over 2 years to say farewell to his fans.  

Glen Campbell at Renfro Valley – photo by Jessica Blankenship – Kentucky Country Music

One of those shows early on was at Renfro Valley Entertainment Center and I was in attendance.  It was bittersweet as you know this would be the last time you could see him perform.  As monitors across the stage showed the words of the songs, Glen would sing and would get excited at different times because his memory would remember something on the song he was about to sing.

One of things that was amazing that even as he would forget the words to the songs, he effortlessly played the guitar with style and grace.  Recent reports indicated that even in the medical facility he is currently staying, he would entertain fellow residents with his guitar playing.
Through Glen Campbell, we have learned the need for more research on Alzheimer’s, as well as the need to preserve our musical heritage.  We need more oral histories and meaningful interviews on our artists throughout their career.  Be sure to support the many organizations such as NPR, PBS, Country Music Hall of Fame, and others are helping to preserve music and stories behind the song, the singer, the legacy.