Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Gentle on My Mind

I'm not sure I recall a time when I didn't love Glen Campbell's music: "Rhinestone Cowboy" was probably the first song of his I really knew, or maybe "By the Time I Get to Phoenix"? Later, of course, "Galveston" and, most of all, "Wichita Lineman" became favorites. And as a music-obsessed teenager, I knew that he was a hotshot session guitarist before he became a country-pop superstar. But I never actually heard any of his playing. Thanks to YouTube, that sort of research became easier by a magnitude of precisely 28949. And yet, for quite a while, video evidence of Campbell's chops were in short supply. Fortunately, not anymore.

This might not have seemed like an obvious example at first glance: it's Campbell's lovely take on the John Hartford classic, later covered by Elvis during his late 60s resurgence. Except he skips the second verse in order to rip off a solo in its place. And what a solo! How good is it? Well, just look at the legends sitting around, laughing at how ridiculously good it is, and under that kind of pressure: Willie Nelson, Roy Clark, Chet damn Atkins and is that Waylon Jennings shown briefly?

Campbell gives a laughing nod to the greatness assembled around him at the end...and yet his face as he's playing seems to indicate he knows he's got this puppy in the bag, as indeed he damn well does. Check out Clark studying Campbell's playing: when a player of his greatness pays that close attention, you know something serious is happening. As indeed it damn well was. The way Willie's head shoots up when Glen says he's about to play a solo? Willie doesn't react that quickly to something unless it's damn worthy.

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