You might have heard about this eclipse in the United States recently. And frankly, it wasn’t that impressive in my area, which was overcast and was going to be only 67% complete. Maybe some lunatic would drive 875 miles just to get a few pictures but for the rest of us, it was only so-so.
But my, I really enjoyed watching OTHER people, in Oregon and Tennessee and South Carolina, revel in the moment. Tears of joy, and shouts of exhilaration. I never got the protective glasses for the 2017 event, and if I had, I’m not sure they’d be OK for 2024, when the next eclipse will be much closer to me.
I don’t get this need to rain on others’ parades. An actress who, for some reason, I follow on Facebook, wrote, right after singer/guitarist Glen Campbell died, “I was not a fan.” And then when some folks complained that she was being insensitive, she gave them the dictionary definition of a fanatic. What she probably SHOULD have said was… nothing.
About a month ago, there was this story about a couple caught having sex in water park parking lot. Now, I didn’t much care until people started making assumptions about the couple.
First, I had to find the original articles; you’d be amazed how many hits water park sex gets. I took the name of the guy in the narrative, and on the first page of Google, I found nine stories about the couple. Six featured HER picture, while none showed his. Maybe it was because she resisted arrest, or that she was smiling in her mug shot.
People’s opinions often suggested “she’s a slut” and/or “she’s on drugs” because of the picture. One guy boldly declared that they probably hadn’t met before that day.
This assertion suddenly made me really curious. The 10th page I found on Google for the guys name was his Facebook page, and as of a week after the incident, it hadn’t been updated. But I discovered the couple had gone out foe a time four years ago, they broke up as she moved away, and they were a couple again as of mid-July.
I don’t need to make excuses for the couple to note that a lot of opinions spewed about them was bogus.
He, along with three of his six children, went on one final tour, recorded for the documentary Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me.
The first time I became really aware with Glen Campbell was when he became the host of something called the Summer Brothers Smother Show, the summer replacement for the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in late June through early September 1968. It even featured the Smothers’ Presidential “candidate” Pat Paulsen. I watched it and liked it.
He had already had a couple crossover hits: Gentle on My Mind was penned by John Hartford, a regular on the show. By the Time I Get To Phoenix was written, as many of Glen’s recordings were, by Jimmy Webb. Plus he had a couple country hits.
Then he starred in the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour from January 1969 to June 1972, which I also viewed. It coincided with more hits such as Wichita Lineman, which has possibly THE most romantic couplet in pop music. Also Galveston, the Texas city I visited in 1995 or 1996 and kept singing in my head.
Sometime around this time, I learned that he had filled in for Brian Wilson on the Beach Boys tours for six months in the 1960s, and I thought that was cool.
I never saw him in the movie TRUE GRIT with John Wayne, for which the Duke won an Oscar. And I stopped paying attention to him as he went through what my buddy Johnny Bacardi called “his excessive wild man ’70s and ’80s-up phases, coke, and Tanya Tucker and all that nonsense.” But like Johnny, I learned he was part of the legendary Wrecking Crew of session musicians, and I developed a huge, newfound respect for him.
In this 2007 interview, Glen Campbell discusses his forgetfulness, which he attributed to his wild lifestyle of the past. But in 2011, it was announced that he had Alzheimer’s disease.
Then he, along with three of his six children, went on one final tour, recorded for the documentary Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me, which I thought was extraordinary.
On Facebook, Jimmy Webb wrote: “I watched him in awe executing his flawless rendition of ‘“The William Tell Overture’ on his classical guitar in his Vegas show. Jazz he loved. He claimed he learned the most about playing the guitar from Django Reinhardt.”
Some of the extra material was clearly done after 2008
I was old enough to remember when it was “shocking” news that the singing Monkees were not really playing their instruments on those first couple albums, and in fact, weren’t even allowed to. The music was provided by a fairly regular crew of session musicians. They may have been known as The Wrecking Crew, though some dispute the label. It was said the mostly men who had played on sessions in earlier times wore suits and ties, and it was feared that these more casually dressed crew was going to wreck the industry.
In fact, in many ways, they enhanced it. Bassist Carol Kaye sees the written bass line from Sonny and Cher’s And The Beat Goes On and changed it to what we heard on the record. They WERE Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass and Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound. They interpreted Brian Wilson’s thoughts, not just on Pet Sounds but on a few earlier albums.
The movie The Wrecking Crew was a labor of love for director Denny Tedesco, whose dad, Tommy, was one of the great Crew guitarists. The first day of shooting brought drummer Hal Blaine (member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), bassist Carol Kaye, saxophonist Plas Johnson and Tommy Tedesco (all of whom should be) together.
Whatever the movie’s value for 90 minutes, and it is considerable, the EXTRAS on the Wrecking Crew DVD, which run over five hours, was often more useful.
There are stories about the legendary Gold Star Studios, the Franks Sinatra and Zappa, and much more. The repeated “I saw her” at the beginning of a chorus of the Mamas and the Papas’ I Saw Her Again was a mistake. Guitarist Don Peake explains how he was saved by Ray Charles in the Deep South. Cher tells about a drunk Leon Russell at a Phil Spector session, a story Leon acknowledges.
Other interviews, some of which made it into the film, included Bill Medley of the Righteous Brothers, Barry McGuire, Jackie DeShannon, the three surviving Monkees, Richard Carpenter of Carpenters, Dean Torrence of Jan and Dean, Petula Clark, plus a lot of musicians, engineers, producers and the like.
The reviews were generally favorable. One critic wondered if all the love Danny Tedesco was hearing about his late father was a result of people telling him to want they want to hear. I can’t answer that, but in the scenes with his colleagues, and by himself, Tommy Tedesco (d. 1997) was a very engaging fellow.
Another critic suggested that this was a rush job; it was anything but that, taking over a decade to finish. It was completed in 2008 but had “been screened only at film festivals, where clearance rights were not required. The film finally saw theatrical release in 2015, after musical rights were cleared.” Some of the extra material was clearly done after 2008; Bill Medley just turned 75, but was 71 at the time of his interview.
Any fan of this era – this means you, Dustbury – should watch this, including the extra material.
Here are links to just a few of the songs that featured The Wrecking Crew.
The last major scene was Glen Campbell recording a song Gonna Miss You, for his wife,
You don’t have to be a fan of Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys to like the film Love & Mercy, but it may enhance an appreciation of the music.
After The Wife and I saw it at The Spectrum Theatre in Albany when we both had a Monday off, she asked to borrow Pet Sounds, for she had never heard the album, while I might put it on a Top Ten list. She was most struck by I Guess I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times [LISTEN], which, for her, seemed to encapsulate the message of the movie.
In the mid-1960s, as the creative soul of the Beach Boys, Brian was hearing sounds that he just had to get out, even if they weren’t the songs about cars and surfing, the themes most associated with the group.
As Brian quit touring, he got Hal Blaine and other professionals, known collectively as the Wrecking Crew, to help produce the intricate music. The band had fired Murry Wilson, the abusive father of Brian, Dennis, and Carl, but Brian went literally crazy still trying to please him.
In the 1980s, a quack named Dr. Eugene Landy (a brilliant and hirsute Paul Giamatti) controlled Brian with pills and an ever-present coterie of bodyguards. Brian meets Melinda Ledbetter (Elizabeth Banks) while trying to buy a car, then their relationship gets more complicated.
This movie works, and works well, even though perhaps it should not. Paul Dano as the younger Brian and John Cusack as the older version don’t especially look alike. Yet during the weaving back and forth between past and present, the narrative was clear, as clear as a story about a man who suffered a mental breakdown can be in painting a portrait of a brilliant, complicated man. *** Country-music legend Glen Campbell was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2011. Glen and his wife Kim shared the news with the world.
The farewell tour, with his three youngest children in the band, was documented in the film Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me (2014), which I watched on CNN recently. It showed how the music, for a time, may have slowed down the ravages of the disease, for his guitar skills remained intact for much of the journey.
But as the three-week engagement turned into 151 shows, we see how nerve-wracking it was, especially for Kim, her kids, and the crew he’d worked with for years but could not always remember their names. It was quite telling that, early on, he mocked the disease, saying that he was happy to forget some things, notably his failed marriages.
When he got a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammys in 2012, he could not remember why we were going. I wondered when Paul McCartney hugged him afterward whether Glen, best known for songs such as Rhinestone Cowboy, Wichita Lineman, and Gentle on My Mind, even knew who he was. He didn’t even always recognize films of himself.
The Campbell saga was broken up by other musicians, such as Kathy Mattea and Bruce Springsteen, talking about how they dealt with their family members dealing with the illness. The last major scene was Glen, who was briefly a Beach Boy, recording a song, Gonna Miss You [LISTEN], for his wife, backed by Hal Blaine and others from the aforementioned Wrecking Crew, of which Glen Campbell before he became famous, was once a member.
Despite the sadness of the disease, this was an emotional, intimate, and triumphant look at life fully lived. Here’s Mark Evanier’s take; since it’s probably not CNN anymore, catch it on video.
First I was watching a segment of CBS Sunday Morning (aired on July 31, but I watched later), where Webb was interviewed. He indicated that, after he’d given Campbell “By the Time I Get to Phoenix”, Campbell wanted “another ‘Phoenix'”. Webb replied that he didn’t have ANOTHER ‘Phoenix’. He wrote most of “Wichita Lineman”, but he wasn’t finished; nevertheless, Campbell recorded it, using a guitar solo where Webb thought the song was incomplete.
Then Campbell, who had announced that he had Alzheimer’s in June was interviewed by ABC News in August. He shared the fact that the favorite of his songs was Wichita Lineman, as he noted his favorite lyrics. As Johnny Bacardi noted here: “‘And I need you more than want you/and I want you for all time’ is simply a genius couplet, no doubt about it.”