Glen Travis Campbell was born on April 22, 1936 in Billstown, Arkansas. According to Wikipedia he’s released 60 studio albums and seven live albums! His debut album was 1962’s BIG BLUEGRASS SPECIAL with the Green River Boys. Campbell has had over 80 singles reach the charts. Over the years he’s been known for such songs as: ‘Gentle on My Mind’, ‘By the Time I Get to Phoenix’, ‘Wichita Lineman’, ‘Galveston’, ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’, and ‘Southern Nights’. What I will be reviewing here is Glen’s 64th and final studio album ADIOS (2017, Universal Music Enterprises). It was recorded around five years ago, after it was revealed that he had Alzheimer’s. The album, produced by Carl Jackson, is Campbell’s sixteenth Top 40 album. It debuted at #7 on the Top Country Albums chart and peaked at #40 on the Billboard 200. Collectors will love the album’s liner notes written by Glen’s wife Kim, and his longtime banjo player, Carl Jackson.
The album opens with ‘Everybody’s Talkin’’ written by Fred Neil. It was the theme song for the movie ‘Midnight Cowboy’, and in 1969 Harry Nilsson had a hit with it. Glen’s daughter Ashley plays banjo on this easy listening tune with appropriate lyrics given Glen’s current condition: “Everybody’s talkin’ at me/I don’t hear a word they’re sayin’/Only the echoes of my mind/People stoppin’, starin’/I can’t see their faces/Only the shadows of their eyes/I’m going where the sun keeps shinin’/Through the pouring rain/Going where the weather suits my clothes”. ‘Just Like Always’ is one of four songs on the album that are Jimmy Webb written. Catherine Marx plays piano on this country ballad of romantic longing: “I pass your street/I look both ways, so incomplete/And I think that I might see you/But of course, I don’t/And I wish that you would call me, but I know you won’t/And I love you anyway/Just like always”.
Aubrey Haynie plays fiddle on Willie Nelson’s ‘Funny How Time Slips Away’. It’s a soft ballad duet by Glen and Willie, on which Willie plays gut string guitar. These lyrics confront an ex: “How’s your new love?/I hope that he’s doin’ fine/And I heard you told him/That you’d love him ‘til the end of time/That’s the same thing that you told me/It seems like only yesterday/Gee, ain’t it funny how time just slips away”. Carl Jackson wrote ‘Arkansas Farmboy’ and provides harmony vocals on this sentimental country ballad: “Oh the weeds have grown high on the farm back in Dixie/Where cotton and corn used to grow/And the memories run wild in this Arkansas farmboy/Who’d give all he owns just to go/I recall how granddaddy held me and taught me/The melody to ‘In the Pines’/On a five-dollar guitar that led to a fortune/I’d trade just to go back in time”.
Track five is a short snippet performed by the late Roger Miller: “Have I lost your love or have I lost my mind?/Am I seeing things or am I goin’ blind?/Do I hear you cryin’ softly in your sleep?/Am I all alone or is it only me?” On track six Glen and Vince Gill flesh out that song, entitled ‘Am I All Alone (Or Is It Only Me)’. It’s full of questions about one’s relationship: “Is it my imagination every time?/Is it jealousy that rules this heart of mine?/Has it come to pass or has it come to be?/Am I all alone or is it only me?/Or is it just a crazy phase that we’re going through?/Is it cold in here or is it you?/Do I hear you crying softly in your sleep?/Am I all alone or is it only me?”
Mike Johnson plays steel guitar on ‘It Won’t Bring Her Back’, a country ballad that offers advice to a heartbroken fella: “You gotta get a grip on it mister/This is not the remedy/And it won’t bring her back, and it won’t stop the pain/And it won’t make you feel any better soon/You keep drinkin’ that old jack/You’re gonna end up under a train/You can lay down on the railroad track/But it won’t bring your baby back/It won’t bring her back”. Next up is Bob Dylan’s ‘Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right’, which has an upbeat shuffle to it here. It’s about a guy leaving a gal: “I’m headed down that long, lonesome road, babe/Where I’m bound, I can’t tell/But adios is just too good of a word, gal/So, I’ll just say ‘Fare thee well’/I don’t mean to tell ya that you’ve been unkind/But you’ve been wastin’ all my valuable time/Now you’re the reason this ol’ boy don’t toe the line/Baby, don’t think twice/It’s all right”.
Glen first recorded Dickey Lee’s ‘She Still Thinks I Care’ on his 1972 GLEN TRAVIS CAMPBELL. On this new version, Tony Creasman plays drums and Kevin Grantt plays bass. It’s a great country and western number with down to earth lyrics: “Just because I asked a friend about her/Just because I spoke her name somewhere/Just because I saw her then went all to pieces/She thinks I still care/Yes, she thinks I still care”. ‘Postcard from Paris’ is another sentimental song: “And I wish you were here/When the shadows fall and all the rushing traffic stills/I wish you were here/And the bells are ringing on the seven hills/I make my way to a small cafe/I wonder what you did today/I wish you were here”. Glen and Kim’s daughters (Ashley, Cal, Shannon) and Carl Jackson do a great job on backing vocals!
Jerry Reed Hubbard wrote ‘A Thing Called Love’. Carl Jackson sings tenor, Ashley sings high baritone, and Glen takes the lead. It reflects on the opposite of hate: “Can’t see it with your eyes, hold it in your hand/But like the wind that covers our land/Strong enough to rule the heart of any man/This thing called love/It can lift you up, it can let you down/Take your world and turn it all around/Ever since time nothing’s ever been found stronger than love”. Last up is the title track, Jimmy Webb’s ‘Adios’. This easy listening tune is a fitting conclusion to Glen’s storied career: “We never really made it baby/But we came pretty close/Adios, adios.../Our dreams of endless summers, they were just too grandiose/Adios, adios/And I’ll miss the blood red sunset/But I’ll miss you the most/Adios, adios”.
I’ll be straight up with you. ADIOS will appeal mostly to the forty and over crowd. It’s mainly comprised of country and easy listening ballads, with a few exceptions. Glen’s voice was actually in fine form for these last recordings of his. Those who will relate most to this album lyrically are those with unfulfilled romantic longings, those who are experiencing heartbreak and heartache, and those who are lonely. On a couple of songs Glen does point out there are better days ahead, so all is not gloomy. Hopefully ADIOS, which I’m rating 90%, will spur others including myself to pick up some of Glen’s classic recordings. If you like Randy Travis, buy this album. For more info visit: www.glencampbell.com and www.universalmusicenterprises.com.