I’ve been a lifelong fan of Glen Campbell s. The first time I got to see him live was in 2009 at the Spokane Interstate Fair. I was in the 7th row on the aisle and he was wonderful. He sang and played as well as he ever had. I saw him again this past March after he had already announced his trouble with Alzheimer’s disease. It was sad to see how he had been affected but inspirational to know that he was still touring so the fans who love him could pay their respects once again.
When I saw him in 2009 I was talking to the people sitting around me before the show (I’m very social) and I told them the story of how I’d discovered Glen.
I lived outside of Cleveland, Ohio where my father was born and raised but most of my family lived in Spokane, Washington where my mother was born and raised. Pop was one of two children, mom was one of 10. We only got to see the relatives out west every four years or so, so it was always a special treat when we went to visit. We went in the summertime and drove as we didn’t have much money, though being young I never realized it. But in 1968 it was different. We were going to Spokane for Christmas. Here’s the thing. My father was a barber. The week before Christmas is when barbers get their biggest tips. Their regular customers are more generous due to the holidays. He wasn’t going to miss that week, as I said, we weren’t well off and those tips helped pay for our Christmas. Anyway, they decided that mom, Allen (my older brother), Sharon (my younger sister) and I would take the train out and pop would fly just before Christmas. Allen was 14, I’d just turned 13 and Sharon had just turned 12.
On the train mom was motion sick and so we were left to our own devices to entertain ourselves. I started talking to the fellow who was sitting across the aisle from us. He was a Green Beret who had just returned from Viet Nam and he was very kind and spent time with me. At some point he asked my mother if I could accompany him to the men’s room. The only place on the trains at that time that had electricity for the passengers was the bathrooms and he told mom that a bunch of servicemen were in there playing cards and listening to music and would it be alright if I joined them. She agreed. We went in there and the room was filled with cigarette smoke the soldiers were playing cards and Glen Campbell was on the record player. I was in heaven. I felt like I was part of something that was beyond my years.
Anyway, that was the first time I ever heard Glen and when we got home I immediately bought the Wichita Lineman album with some of the money I made shining shoes at the barber shop where my father worked. I also joined the Glen Campbell fan club. I’ve never forgotten that moment and I’ve never stopped loving Glen and his music.
After telling this story to those folks at the fair they asked me if I was going to stay after the concert and tell Glen my story. I shook my head and told them that this story is important in my life, not Glen’s. I didn’t bother him with it.
I was listening to my MP3 player at work today and there’s a haunting instrumental from his Ghost on the Canvas album named Valley of the Son and it was so beautiful I knew I had to come home and write this out.