The news of Glen Campbell’s death this past Tuesday was not particularly shocking (albeit sad), as he was 81 years old, and had been suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease for years. He retired from performing live in 2012 – but not before gifting his friends and fans with a glorious/bittersweet farewell tour that included a majestic set at the Hollywood Bowl as part of KCRW’s World Festival.
Anne Litt was our host that night, and she wrote glowingly for this website about her experience of meeting one of her heroes. You can read it here.
I was also in attendance, but this show happened to fall on the same night as Part Time Punks’ first (and I believe only) Shoegaze Festival. I split my time between the two events, and also wrote a piece for this site about how fitting it was that one of the primary guitarists for the group of session musicians known as the Wrecking Crew was celebrating his swan song, while others were participating in what I’ve been told was the world’s first official Shoegaze Festival. The Wrecking Crew were, after all, the architects of Phil Spector’s “Wall of Sound.” The genre of Shoegaze never could have existed if there wasn’t a “Wall of Sound” for its artists to worship/lovingly dismantle. You can read my take here.
This is all to say, even if Glen Campbell’s death wasn’t that much of a surprise, it’s still an incredible loss to the music world that is deeply felt by so many of us. Here are a few of my favorite contributions that he made to the world, both in his solo career, and as part of the Wrecking Crew.
Glen Campbell – “Wichita Lineman”
Has there ever been a lyric better than “And I need you more than want you, and I want you for all time?” I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, no. No there hasn’t been.
Glen Campbell – “Adios”
This is the title track to Glen Campbell’s final record. He began recording it after his aforementioned farewell tour, and released it this year. Apparently he told his wife that he wanted to preserve “what magic was left.” He succeeded. His voice sounds incredible, and the guitar work is spectacular. Campbell was a man who gracefully acknowledged that he wasn’t long for this world several years ago, and he had the courtesy to leave us with a lovely parting note.
The Ronettes – “Be My Baby”
This is most likely the song that you think of when you think of The “Wall of Sound,” and Glen Campbell’s six string guitar contribution is a major part of what makes it so chill inducing from the first time you hear it to the 100th.
The Beach Boys – “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times”
If you’ve never listened to the seminal Beach Boys album Pet Sounds, or have listened but haven’t revisited it recently, this weekend would be a perfect time to do so. Trying to pick a song from it to spotlight is next to impossible, but “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times” is perhaps the best example of the boundary pushing work that the Beach Boys, and their backing band The Wrecking Crew were doing in 1966.