Glen Campbell: 5 essential songs and 4 things to know about the late country legend

Glen Campbell: 5 essential songs and 4 things to know about the late country legendEntertainment

Dolly Parton recorded a tribute to Glen Campbell after the news of his death

NASHVILLE — Glen Campbell sang some of country music’s most gorgeous songs, blending evocative imagery with a smooth, peerless tenor. Campbell died Tuesday at 81.

Here are five songs that contributed to his legendary status and four things to know about his career.

“Gentle On My Mind”

Campbell’s effortless interpretation of John Hartford’s poetic lyrics made this love song an instant classic. Campbell won a 1968 Grammy for his performance.

“Galveston”

One of Campbell’s timeless collaborations with songwriter Jimmy Webb, “Galveston” builds to a dramatic crescendo that set the the bar for today’s epic country power ballads from vocal powerhouses like Carrie Underwood.

“Wichita Lineman”

Webb also wrote this hypnotic ballad that that made full use of Campbell’s interpretive skills and silky voice. Heartache never sounded so good.

“Rhinestone Cowboy”

Nashville is filled with singers struggling to make it in a bruising industry — and with songs celebrating those dreamers. This is the gold standard.

By the time Campbell hits the soaring chorus, where he dreams of the fame that awaits the chosen few, you’ll be headed to Lower Broadway with a guitar and a tip jar.

“I’m Not Gonna Miss You”

Campbell was a master of heartbreak, but this song — recorded at the end of his career — might have been the saddest he ever recorded. He co-wrote it with Julian Raymond after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and the grim lyrics trace the trajectory of the disease: “I’m still here but yet I’m gone. / I don’t play guitar or sing my songs.”

The song was included in the 2014 documentary Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me. Campbell and Raymond were nominated for an Academy Award for best original song written for a film.

Beyond his catalog, here are four things to know about the late singer.

He was the youngest of 7 children

Campbell was born in Delight, Ark., on April 22, 1936, the youngest of seven sons in a farming family. Each of his family members played guitar, and by 6 years old, Campbell was considered a prodigy. He dropped out of school in 10th grade to pursue his music career outside of Arkansas, starting first in Albuquerque, N.M.

A would-be Beach Boy

After touring with and playing guitar on the Beach Boys’ Sloop John B., Campbell turned down an offer in 1965 to join the band as a full-time member, instead deciding to establish his own career as a solo musician.

Drug use and recovery

After Campbell’s second wife, Billie Jean Campbell, filed for divorce in 1975, Campbell later revealed he had been using cocaine. His drug use would ultimately lead to the termination of his third marriage to Sarah Barg. A near-overdose in 1981 led to his conversion to Christianity and eventual ceasing of alcohol and drug use.

Alzheimer’s diagnosis and farewell to music

Campbell and his fourth wife, Kim Woolen, announced in 2011 that he was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. He went on to release another album and played his final Nashville show in January 2012, performing at the Ryman Auditorium with three of his children and reading his lyrics off a teleprompter. He played his last show Nov. 30, 2012, in Napa, Calif.

usatoday.com