Kristi and I ushered for the performance of Glen Campbell at the Carson Center in Paducah on May 18. We had missed signing up the first time he was supposed to perform several months before that, but he cancelled that show and rescheduled. We had wondered if he would really perform, as his condition with early alzheimers had been well publicized. But the show was publicized, and by the evening of the 18th, it was still a go. We put on our black pants and white shirt and went to the center. And we are so glad we did!
There were many parallels to the Merle Haggard concert, although Merle's doesn't wear his health condition on his sleeve like Glen does. But both shows were opened by bands lead by the star's family. Then, in both cases, the family, after performing as the opening act, performed as the backup band, with the addition of some others. I already wrote about the Merle Haggard show. As incredible and moving as that show was, (and the context was very different for this show) I think the Glen Campbell family show was even more emotional.
Just as in the Merle Haggard family show, Glen had his kids around him on stage, and not only did they seem truly in awe of their father, but it was clear that they were watching their father as they gave him another chance to do what he loved - music.
But with the Glen Campbell show, there was the added and obvious element of where Glen's mind is at on any given moment. It added an unpredictability beyond control to the show. It added a pressure on the backup band, which happened to be to a large part, his kids, But they patiently, lovingly, and with good humor, went with the waves of the show as Glen jovially commented on his chipped tooth, his sore knee, and other things. His floor monitors helped him remember the lyrics, and he performed, not necessarily "flawlessly" in the traditional sense, but beautifully in the context of the moment, all of his biggest hits, as well as some songs that aren't as well known.
While these songs are very recognizable, like "Rhinestone Cowboy," Wichita Lineman," and "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," that doesn't mean they are easy songs. Just the opposite. They are complicated chord progressions, with modulations, breaks, bridges, and other aspects of songs that make them much more than the simple progression songs. So to be able to sing them when you are 100% in your youth is a great accomplishment. To be able to sing them when you are 70 and with some health issues, it's incredible.
And even more so incredible, was that Glen, who is known for his outstanding guitar work, could still pick some pretty good licks. He did some double guitar solos with his son. The picking wasn't technically "perfect" as he used to play, but it was darn good, and it was very emotional and touching to watch the family come together.
After the show, Kristi and I both agreed that were so glad that we hadn't missed it. We felt that we guessed we were meant to see these two epic family country music shows so close to each other. It showed the best qualities of what country music is all about. Those values are often overshadowed in today's world. But love, family, and music is alive and well.