Lockie’s Back and this week he has had quite a lot occur around him to write about, no more so than the passing of the great Glen Campbell.
I spent a golden time indeed with loved ones and old friends last Sunday, had arguments over right wing book launches online this week with idiots, sat staring at my TV gobsmacked and aghast listening to the sabre rattling orange rhetoric of the so called leader of the free world threatening the badly dressed thumb sucking, foot stamping Dictator of North Korea.
I don’t want to indulge myself, or bore you with descriptions of my wonderfully angelic niece Naysa or my heartwarming catch up with old pals either (actually Naysa is my second cousin but niece is easier to write), nor do I care to give anymore credence and column inches to any hate mongerers, or are we to discuss possible World war?…
Nah – Not in the mood.
What has upset me rather a lot this week is the passing of Glen Campbell.Someone who’s music has been in my life and on radios in kitchens, garages and cars I have spent time in over decades since I was the same age as our families own little angel Naysa.
Songs like the sublime and probably impossibly perfect ‘Wichita Line Man’.
This song had the ability to set my heart racing and aching even as a pre pubescent youth with the romance, longing and heartache in the lyrics, the melody and staccato guitar effect singing like the wind blown telephone pole wires the hero in the song is fixing across the wide Wichita plains.
This lyric ‘And I need you more than want you – And I want you for all time’ is possibly the greatest love letter ever put to paper by the incredible genius of American song writers Jimmy Webb.
It sums up the lonesome, aching heart in an erstwhile cowboys dust driven chest, whilst working the huge expanse of Kansas state and longing to smell the hair and hold the woman he loves in his arms.
Pure, golden songwriting at its very best and sung by the purest and most golden of great American country voices.
I can still stop me in my tracks, and cause me to close my eyes, and listen quietly whenever I hear the opening chords of the song.
It still after decades of hearing it, has the ability to send cold shivers up my spine and bring the memory of lost, remembered love to my heart. Isn’t that what all the best love songs should do?!
Stop you … Hurt you just a little, put you back in a place and a memory, when you longed for that special someone who filled your heart and dreams, who made your pulse race and your stomach flutter just seeing them enter a room.
Of course it bloody well is!
That’s the point of love songs… To hurt you a little, and touch the golden heart strings, to send them singing and ringing like the telephone wires Glen sings so melancholically and tenderly about.
Great stuff.Makes you know you are alive!
He also sang sooooooo many other amazing songs during his career.
I particularly love and always enjoy hearing three particular greats though… The above and these two other classics.
The second of 3 wonderful and evocative Glen Campbell songs I personally adore is the seminal ‘Gentle on my mind’ – Another paean to loneliness and heartache, as well as a 4 times Grammy award winning classic, which became effectively his theme song throughout the rest of his career.
This is another one that stops me in my tracks when I hear it and sends me all country and western, lonesome, drifting cowboy riding across the plains and freight trains of the great mid west… Sublime and superb.
The third but least by no means is ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’ – A tale of a down on his luck rodeo star determinedly dreaming about how he will make his mark on a broadway Rodeo Show… ‘Getting cards and letters from people I don’t even know… And offers coming over the phone’
A classic singalong story of one mans version of the American dream.
Utterly Americana, utterly country and utterly wonderful as was the story and talent of Glen Campbell.
A man whose talent as a musician saw him play alongside other members of the legendary sessions group known as ‘The Wrecking Crew’ who played on some of greatest songs of the 20th Century.
He also played on almost all the Beach Boys albums and hits as well as on the definitive and seminally important Pet Sounds album.
This alongside him starring in probably my favourite Western of all time ‘True Grit’ is another reason I feel very sad to see him leave the stage.
When people who have loomed large in your musical, artistic, theatrical and televisual entertainment life pass it is always emotional in a very personal way.
Their performances, their music and their art may have been a part of your journey through a lifetime… They run alongside it and especially if they were part of your formative childhood years.
I watched True Grit on a Saturday night on the telly whilst sat with my Dad, I heard my old Dad sing along to Wichita line man on the radio on a Sunday or in the car as we drove away on caravan holidays as kids.
I grew up listening and watching Glen Cambell from when he was a young and vibrant actor and entertainer in the 60’s on the silver screen with ‘The Duke’ John Wayne and on lunchtime TV shows like Pebble Mill, or as a guest on Parkinson on a Saturday night in the 70’s.
I drifted off way from music and easy listening of artists like Glen through the post punk and New Wave years of the early 80’s, but was reminded of the genius of the song Wichita Line Man when the British Electric Foundation or B.E.F as they were known covered it for an album of superb renditions of superb songs on their album ‘Music of quality and distinction’.
This album had s version by the BEF by another Glen – Glenn Gregory of Heaven 17 and it was produced by Martyn Ware.
Although a great version, it missed the atmosphere and melancholy of the real and original Glen’s vocal.
An interesting aside, the artist who’s career boomed from her collaboration on this album was Tina Turner…Ware went on to produce and co wrote songs on her hugely successful ‘Private Dancer’ album.
I continued to hear the 3 songs I have written about throughout the 90’s and Noughties on radio, iTunes and You Tube in the following years.
I love and enjoy each and every time I hear them and relive times, places, faces, moments and relationships lost each and every time as well.
The passing of an artist whose music or films you have had in your life, throughout your life is like marking the time of your own mortality.
It is sad when they leave wether you knew them or not, as it reminds you of the short and impermanent nature of life.
Another page has turned, another actor had left the stage.
Another song has been sung.
Another day has begun.
I still do occasionally watch the original True Grit and I fondly remember sitting with my old Dad Cliffie and enjoying every second of Rooster Coburn’s exploits and his ultimate sad demise…The best Western ever.
You know… I may well get our little Naysa to watch it with me one quiet Sunday afternoon soon.
Might even play her ‘Wichita Line Man’ too.May your God bless you Glen …
Thank you for the beautiful, lonesome memories and melodies.