Saturday, February 14, 2015

Glen Campbell's Triumph In The Midst Of Tragedy

In 1967, country music artist Glen Campbell won four Grammy awards. In 1968, he won the "Album of the Year" award. Forty-eight years later Mr. Campbell was once again awarded another Grammy award - this one for Best Country Song. It will likely be his last. The song explains why.

I'm still here, but yet I'm gone
I don't play guitar or sing my songs
They never defined who I am
The man that loves you 'til the end

You're the last person I will love
You're the last face I will recall
And best of all, I'm not gonna miss you
Not gonna miss you

I'm never gonna hold you like I did
Or say I love you to the kids
You're never gonna see it in my eyes
It's not gonna hurt me when you cry

I'm never gonna know what you go through
All the things I say or do
All the hurt and all the pain
One thing selfishly remains

I'm not gonna miss you
I'm not gonna miss you

Campbell's song, co-written by Julian Raymond, is about what's going to happen as his Alzheimer's Disease progresses. In a very poignant way he points out that as his mind gets worse he's not really going to know it. As he fails to recognize people's faces he's not going to miss them or even know why they cry. And he's not going to feel their pain as he slips away and leaves them behind.

He was able to record the song after it was written although in this late stage I doubt he can still do that. His wife accepted his Grammy Award for him and said the disease has progressed too far for him to have attended the show.

“I’m so proud of him tonight,” she told the crowd. “It’s been an amazing journey. He’s been so courageous in bringing awareness to Alzheimer’s and caregiving. Sadly, he can’t be here with us because he is in the late stages of Alzheimer’s, but he is healthy and cheerful.”

She said she believes that her husband’s music has helped him survive.

“I believe music kept him healthy for a longer period of time and enabled him to enjoy his life and his family even in the midst of living with a debilitating brain disease.”

I think Glen Campbell was the first country artist I really liked. Who can forget "Gentle On My Mind," "Wichita Lineman," "Galveston'" or "By The Time I Get To Phoenix?" I remember memorizing "Gentle On My Mind" and "Galveston" and singing along with the radio.

Campbell was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease in 2011. In 2012, with his children on stage with him, he went on a farewell tour to say good-bye to his fans. It is reported now that he is in a long-term Alzheimer's care facility.

In an interview Campbell was once asked: "Would it be fair to say that your ultimate goal was to become a successful touring, recording artist?" 

His answer was quite remarkable.

"Well, I don't really know. My ultimate goal is to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and see God. That's my ultimate goal."

You may forget all of us, Mr. Campbell, but many of us will not forget you. You still have fans and you always will. May God keep you at peace while you're here and take you in His arms when the proper time comes. In heaven you'll be able to sing again!

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