That voice. That guitar playing. And those songs. Geez, I am really going to miss Glen Campbell. He was a huge influence on me and pretty much every other country musician who has strummed a guitar and sung their heart out during the past five decades.
Campbell’s God-given talents made him one of the most successful and influential country pop singers in music history. In some ways, he was the face of mainstream country music, the guy who casual country fans and suburbanites instantly recognized. His songs were gorgeous tales filled with evocative imagery, unforgettable odes capable of lifting listeners to another time and place. Absolute brilliance.
As you probably know, Campbell endured an extremely difficult last few years due to Alzheimer’s disease. Because of that, I am glad that his suffering is over. Now we are left with his music and the impact it’s made on countless fans, musicians, and critics.
Here are 5 songs that I feel best represent what Glen Campbell means to me. As you listen, spend a moment being grateful that we were blessed by a talent and soul such as his.
5. “Gentle on My Mind”
“Gentle on My Mind” became an early signature song for Campbell. Slightly older fans will remember it as the focal point of his 1969-1972 CBS television series The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour.
4. “Still Within the Sound of My Voice”
Easily the best single of Campbell’s later work from his time in Nashville, this late 1980s top 10 hit definitely sounded familiar to fans. The song’s arrangement had that same dramatic sound as many of Campbell’s earliest works.
3. “Southern Nights”
Allen Toussaint wrote “Southern Nights” about his memories of trips to rural Louisiana. Campbell instantly thought of his childhood in Delight, Arkansas. Campbell’s version is noteworthy because it includes one of the most memorable melodies in country or pop music history.
2. “By the Time I Get to Phoenix”
A double Grammy winner for Campbell in 1968, “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” is often considered the best example of the Glen Campbell sound. The lyrics tell the story of a man who has made the agonizing decision to break away from his lover – despite knowing that it’s the last thing she would ever expect.
1. “Rhinestone Cowboy”
This iconic ode to big dreams became Campbell’s first country chart-topper in six years, and his first to top the Hot 100. It is the very definition of a classic, an instantly recognizable and catchy tune that inspires musicians to never give up on their dream of making it to the big time.