Admittedly, I wanted to see Glen Campbell not only because I like his music, but because I wanted to>"/>
The Paramount November 27
Admittedly, I wanted to see Glen Campbell not only because I like his music, but because I wanted to see what would happen on what the artist is calling his final tour. Campbell has Alzheimer's disease, and in the few public appearances he has made recently, it seems like his case is severe. He sometimes can't recognize members of his immediate family, so how is it possible for him to tour? Last night at the Paramount, what could have been a teary stop on his farewell tour turned out to be a fun, classic country evening.
It's safe to say a man who played rhythm guitar on Frank Sinatra's "Strangers In the Night" and the Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations" led a pretty incredible life. The famous story goes that during the recording session with Old Blue Eyes, the then unknown Campbell sat in a corner and stared, unable to take his eyes off the world-famous crooner. "Who's the fag guitarist over there," Sinatra eloquently asked. Campbell also played with Elvis, the Righteous Brothers and as a member of Phil Spector's Wall of Sound. What a tragedy it is to have been a part of history only to have the memories fade away.
Beyond his collection of 12 gold albums, he has four platinum and one double-platinum album to his credit. During his heyday in the '60s and '70s, he racked up 27 top-10 hits, several of which he played in his 90-minute set. "Gentle on My Mind" opened the show with its line about "the rivers of my memory." Songs like "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" and "Wichita Lineman" were loose and fun, though speckled with a few forgotten lyrics. Campbell whipped out several impressive guitar solos last night, and even engaged in "Dueling Banjos" with his daughter Shannon who, along with son Ashley, play in the band. They are known as Victoria Ghost.
A packed house of folks old enough to remember the legendarily coked-out and violent relationship Campbell had with Tanya Tucker and, more recently, his pioneering work with the celebrity mug shot, seemed to treat Campbell as a triumphant underdog. Funny how some celebrities get a pass.
Campbell's disease was very apparent during the set, but astoundingly there wasn't a single sad moment. He turned every forgotten lyric, every Alzheimer's moment into something light and even funny. "G? No, F?" he asked as the band struck up "Galveston." "I'll get it in a minute." The audience laughed along with Campbell. There was no self-pity going on. Campbell, in his dark blue, rhinestoned shirt was simply up there having a great time, and everyone else was having fun, too. Ironically and sadly, the night will prove memorable for all but the man on stage.
BTW: I had the good fortune of randomly meeting Lynn and Marian Thrasher in the lobby before the show. It just so happens the Thrashers are longtime volunteers at the Paramount who, in March of this year, opened an archive on the fourth floor. I was lucky enough to get a private, after hours tour of the Seattle Theater Group Historic Theaters Library. It's filled with old newspaper clippings, cool antiques and autographed musician photos that trace the history of the Paramount, Neptune and Moore. The Thrashers would like Seattle to know their museum is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. It's a great lunch break destination to get your mind off the grind, and admission is free.