The Final Ride of Glen Campbell: Musical Highwayman

The more I think about it, the more jazzed and grateful I am to see Glen Campbell on his Goodbye Tour tonight.

Because I’m Mister Safety, I drove around in the snow this morning, listening to a live Campbell album and psyching myself up. Obviously, it’s gonna be a pretty heavy evening — in the context of his Alzheimer’s diagnosis, Campbell’s farewell tour has a lot more gravity and truth-in-advertising than, oh, Cher or the Who and their respective 17 farewell tours.

There have been, naturally, critics and fans who suggest that Campbell is being exploited, and that it’s cruel to send him out like a feeble circus horse to trot around the Big Top one more time for profit and for the entertainment of ghouls like, well, I suppose, myself.

But I don't see it that way. As Campbell demonstrated on the Grammys telecast, and as reviews from other stops on the tour hit the Internet, it’s clear that the disease is in a relatively early stage. He forgets a few lyrics, gets a bit confused in between-song conversation sometimes — but clearly knows his situation and can make light of it.

Too, his voice sounds good and his guitarist’s skills — never forget he was one of the most sought after session players in the heyday of Hollywood studio era — are in top shape. And don’t the doctors tell us that some of the best therapy for Alzheimer patients is to exercise the body and mind and to occupy oneself with beloved activities and amongst loved ones?

Campbell’s band includes three of his children as well as longtime friend and pianist T.J. Kuenster, and the set list includes an array of hits that boggles the mind as they caress the ears, one after another. Not only have Allen Toussaint (“Southern Nights”) and John Hartford (“Gentle On My Mind”) benefitted from what are now the definitive versions of their songs, but Campbell is basically The Official Interpreter of material by Jimmy Webb — one of the greatest songwriters of all time. And it's hard to imagine any version of Webb's tunes being done better or more intuitively than Campbell's. They are/were a perfect artistic match.

And, so, in the Mohegan Sun Arena tonight — about eight years since I saw Campbell in that facility’s Wolf Den — I’ll be privileged to watch him, one last time, as he nuances Webb’s “Wichita Lineman,” “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Galveston” and “Where’s the Playground, Susie.”

Maybe he’ll even do Webb’s “Highwayman,” another Campbell favorite. It’s a song about death and resurrection — or at least reincarnation — and each first-person verse describes a new existence for the Highwayman in the endless cycle of Being. Read the words to the final verse and think Good Thoughts for Glen Campbell:

I'll fly a starship
Across the Universe divide
And when I reach the other side
I'll find a place to rest my spirit if I can
Perhaps I may become a highwayman again
Or I may simply be a single drop of rain
But I will remain
And I'll be back again
and again, and again, and again, and again... 


Reader Comments


Witnessing the electrocution of Gary Thain

Rick and Peter share favorite concert memories that had nothing to do with the music. Rick was in the front row when Uriah Heep bassist Gary Thain was electrocuted. Peter met As Fast As frontman Spencer Albee in the mens’ room. Listener Keith...

The passing of Barkley Hendricks, and grown men wearing concert t-shirts

Is it appropriate for an adult man to walk around wearing the jersey of his favorite sports team? How about a concert t-shirt? Aren't we just paying a band for the privlege of advertising for them? Shouldn't they pay us? Plus, reflecting on the...

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame snubs, The Musical Box Genesis tribute, and the Knickerbocker All-Stars

Who deserves to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Who's in the shouldn't be? Should music be a meritocracy similar to sports? Plus, Rick's thoughts on the Genesis tribute band The Musical Boz, and the Knickerbocker All-Stars.

New London Youth Talent Show, Bon Jovi, and Long Day's Journey Into Night

The seventh annual New London Youth Talent Show is coming to The Garde on Saturday night, Bon Jovi is coming to Mohegan Sun Arena, and Flock Theatre is staging performance of Eugene O'Neill's "Long Day's Journey into Night" in real time in the...

Joshua Tree nostalgia, Chuck Berry, Aretha Franklin’s final tour

Was U2's The Joshua Tree a life-changing album, or is it overrated? Is the new Joshua Tree 30th anniversary tour a chance to cash in on nostalgia, or is the album relevant again in today's political climate? Plus: reflecting on the passing of Chuck...

Podcast: So you think you want to be a concert reviewer?

Some people think reviewing concerts is the coolest job in the world. Sometimes it is, but it's not always easy to write something that people will actually read. The Day's Rick Koster shares some things he has learned in his years writing about...

Eating at Guy Fieri’s and listening to bro-country

Rick Koster shares his thoughts on his recent dining experience at Guy Fieri's Kitchen+Bar at Foxwoods (Donkey Sauce! Trash Can Nachos!) and reveals his in-depth reseach into the Saturday party/Sunday church dichotomy in the lyrics of Florida...

Podcast: 20 years of The Rivergods

Rick Koster and Peter Huoppi discuss the longevity of New London band The Rivergods, and preview tracks from their new album "State of the Union." Also, cellist Matt Haimovitz plays Connecticut College.

Podcast: Rick and Kristy go to The Oscars

Rick Koster and Kristina Dorsey discuss the upcoming Academy Awards, plus The Subdudes atThe Garde and The Banff Mountain Film Festival at Connecticut College.

Podcast: The Grammys and King Crimson at opposite ends of the musical spectrum

Rick Koster and Peter Huoppi discuss the 2017 Grammy Awards and King Crimson's album Larks' Tongues in Aspic.

Podcast: Thor Jensen, Matt Charette and Super Bowl halftime shows

Rick Koster and Peter Huoppi look forward to upcoming performances by Thor Jensen and Matt Charette, and discuss the distinction between music and entertainment in the Super Bowl halftime shows.

Body painting, funky Zappa covers, and dying rock stars

After the death of John Wetton, Rick Koster and Peter Huoppi talk about losing your musical heroes. Also, Hygienic body painting, The CarLeans, Mike Casey Trio, and The Z3.

Podcast: Revisiting favorite teen albums

Rick Koster and Peter Huoppi offer their takes on each other's top album from their teenage years.