Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Gentle on my Mind

Things ain't what they used to be...and probably never was. Will Rogers.

Many people look back on the early years of their lives and yearn for those simpler times. They did not grow up in the 60's.

The late Sixties and early Seventies were an amazing amalgamation of conflicting social influences. Rock music's expressions were sometimes angrily political, occasionally drug-celebratory, presenting a hard edge. At the movies, one might walk in to a double feature - one being Patton, the other MASH - where the American military is celebrated and skewered. Onto this stage strode Glen Travis Campbell.

He'd had a big hit - "Gentle on my Mind." It was an unconventional love song by any account, a loner on the road, something of a hobo, who remembers someone not because he has to, but because he can't stop himself.

It struck a chord. Doesn't everyone have someone in their past, the memory of whom lingers through the years? Millions of people from around the world answered yes by the simple mechanism of purchasing the record, or listening to it on the radio. Or both.

Campbell grew up in Arkansas, and moved to LA to pursue a music career. He was a session musician, that is, an excellent player who sits in with better known stars and does the heavy lifting. He was an exceptional guitar player. The list of groups with whom he'd associated was a who's who of headliners.

A string of hits helped land him a movie role, and a variety show on TV - a popular genre during that period. My parents loved the show, watched it every week. My mom especially loved Campbell's wholesome appeal, his clear tones and easy manner.

His career was not to be a fairy tale. Drinking and drugs took their toll. Music tastes moved on.

It's easy to dismiss him as a phony, his career brief and inconsequential. But, when he passed away yesterday at 81 there were millions of young men and women my age, remembering the nights when they huddled around a TV with their now-late parents and sang along.  May those memories sit gentle on their minds.


  1. My earliest music memories - in Pearl River, New York, somewhere between the summers of '67 and '70 - are of my dad's vinyl albums, most especially Glen Campbell's "Burning Bridges."

    Thirty years later (and before the advent of eBay) I worked long and hard to find a copy of that album, every one of its songs dear to me in no small part because they remind me of my dad and those childhood days.

    I eventually tracked one down, had it mailed to me, and then converted the tracks to digital. They're now part of my digital music library, and part of my dad's digital music library even as *his* vinyl copy is long since gone.

  2. Awesome! Thanks for adding that comment, my friend. Funny how those memories are barely below the surface.