May 7, 2012

USA : For Campbell, ‘Everything’s fine’

FORT  WAYNE , USA  /  The Journal Gazette / Active Aging  / May 6, 2012

Icon defies Alzheimer’s, maintains busy schedule


By Steve Penhollow


When compared with other medical revelations, the news that a senior citizen has Alzheimer’s does not qualify as a surprise, Glen Campbell says.

“That’s not a surprise,” he says in a phone interview. “Now finding out that something’s got a lump in it. That’s a surprise.”

Perhaps a man in his mid-70s should be prepared to hear almost anything regarding what has gone wrong with his body.

At any rate, Campbell says he has tried not to let being on the receiving end of this diagnosis last year change how he runs his career. 

“I just do it the same way I always have,” he says. “Everything’s fine. I pick up whatever I need along the way. There are always a few things to pick up here and there.”

Some of the things to which Campbell refers here, presumably, are words. 

He sometimes gropes for them over the phone and uses three teleprompters in concert to help him remember the lyrics to his 74 charted songs and 27 top 10 hits.

Glen Campbell has had 74 charted songs and 27 top 10 hits during his musical career.
But everything is fine in the sense that Campbell has chosen to do the opposite of what celebrities in his situation usually do, and it has proven not only to be the brave thing but the smart thing as well.

Even with the occasional bouts of forgetfulness, Campbell’s performances continue to receive high marks from fans and critics. Campbell performs Thursday at the Honeywell Center in Wabash.

Campbell says he’s been “pickin’ and grinnin” so long that it’s like walking and breathing. 

“I think people just kind of overdid it, made too much of it,” Campbell says of the coverage of his condition.
When music experts wax expertly about a career as rich and varied as Campbell’s, they sometimes describe it as having spanned this and that.

But Campbell has built some actual bridges.

He mashed up country and pop before that was extensively seen as seemly (and before mashing was extensively seen as creative).

“Yeah, I think I will take credit for that,” he says. “I helped everything along. But I really don’t like to look at it as pop rock or crock.

“It’s music,” Campbell says. “Some of it has got really good chord progressions and some of it has not-as-good lyrics. You kind of have to weed through it.”

Campbell takes responsibility for any and all weeding that has happened in his career, which is just another way of saying “the buck stops” with the Rhinestone Cowboy. 

The music business has changed a lot since Campbell was a young man, but he says the way he started out in the ’60s is still a good way to go about it: Become known as an excellent musician.

“What I did was I played for a band and we had (the) best band in the world for a long time,” Campbell says, referring to the gaggle of studio musicians known as “The Wrecking Crew.” He says.

“I knew how to use a capo. I could get it in any position.”

Campbell says he isn’t proud of any one accomplishment more than another.

“I wouldn’t single anything out,” he says. “I feel good about everything that’s been happening to me. It’s been marvelous up to this point. I’ll just keep on doing what I do, and the only difference will be that I will say ‘huh?’ a couple of times more than I used to.”

These days, Campbell’s crackerjack band has three of his grown offspring in it. 

“Oh yeah, that’s how I raised them. I didn’t raise them to … bum money off me,” he says, laughing. “I make them work.” 

“No really,” he says. “I have been really blessed that way.”

Campbell appears to be touring a lot these days, but he says there are a lot of breaks built into the schedule.
“Some days I sing and some days I play golf,” he says. “Unfortunately, whenever I decide I want to go play golf, it rains.” 

His wife, Kim Campbell, seems ever at his side, although it is perhaps a measure of the family’s fierce resolve about Alzheimer’s that she mostly leaves her husband alone during this interview.

“My wife does everything I ask,” Campbell says, “and I only say that because she is sitting here looking at me.”

Theirs is a complex bond simply explained, Campbell says. 

“I’ll tell you what it all comes down to,” he says. “We love each other. It’s amazing.”


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