Glen Campbell Says Goodbye on Ghost on the Canvas

Moving on to a better place

Campbell, never a prolific writer, co-wrote five of the album's songs. "Julian would start them. And I'd personalize them, with 'I' and 'Me.' I have people I want to say goodbye to, so that made me want to contribute lyrics. Songs like 'A Better Place,' which is hopefully where I'm headed. I sang most of them in one take, with some punch-ins. Of course, occasionally, I'd learn a song one day and forget it the next. So, we'd start over."

The mood of the songs is so haunting, the feeling of mortality in the room so strong, Campbell has a sudden reminiscence about his first brush with death.

"When I was about three, I was on my way to buy some candy, when I fell into the creek. My uncle fished me out, but I'd turned blue. Momma was screaming, 'Lord, please don't take him!' My brothers happened to be coming along and they'd just taken lifesaving at a 3-C Camp. They worked on me, passed me back and forth, and got a half-gallon of water outta me. Somehow, I survived."

Glen Campbell lets go on his new album.
Courtesy Big Hassle
Glen Campbell lets go on his new album.

"So, Glen, you've been on Golden Time these past 70 years or so," I say.

"I had a destiny to play guitar, is all. No way I was supposed to die then."

I ask if he believes he's going to heaven when he dies.

"Yeah, I think so," he says. "I was pretty wild there for a while, but I got straightened out. Especially with my marriage. So, I'm pretty sure I'll make it to heaven." His eyes glint.

"Of course," Campbell adds, "that's on one condition. That, between now and then, I don't mess things up. Barring that? I'll be fine, man."

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James A. Cooley
James A. Cooley

I am seeing Glen Campbell on March 18 in Austin. The term legend is overused. In his case, it may be an understatement.


I heard his Galveston album as a kid in my aunt's Malibu and the songs and arrangements are so memorable and brilliant. A true classic. I remember seeing him on tv with Johnny Cash, too. He never acts like he thinks he is a big deal but the more you learn about him the more impressive his position in pop music history becomes.


Excellent piece...thank you!


Poignant and sensitive piece. This fate awits many of us 'baby boomers.' The reseach was began thanks to the forthrightness and dignity of President Reagan, his wife Nancy and son Ron. The genome theory and stem cell techniques will probabably resolve this horible disease --but,long after we get it and/or die. That is, if the new extreme right doesn't sabotage it for political motivations.


KEVIN SCHWARTZ hit the nail on the head. He gets it. GREAT article.

Kevin Schwartz
Kevin Schwartz

Really brilliant. Thanks for this. What makes me alternately sad and mad is that this youth-worhisping culture only remembers the great and substantial ones either (1) when they're dying or (2) after they're dead. In between, all those years they're still here, they're invariably forgotten, lost in a sea of Ga Gas and Katy Perrys and Justins and...the rest...and here was Glen Campbell right in our midst and nobody particularly caring - until now. We remember his classic songs, we remember that he participated in the wondrous when it comes to the very, very tricky art form called music - much harder to pull off than you'd think in a world of 10 million bands - but where was the interest when he was healthy? Why do these experienced artists, who've spent years spent honing their craft, gather dust and rot while utterly inferior creatures prance about? Why Twinkies over prime rib? Sad commentary on the culture at large, which is really damned small, and the small file where you'll find the real artisans who were always larger than life...


Well said. Now put your money where your mouth is and dive into Glen's back catalogue. Starting with the superb Basic from 1978.

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