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Glen Campbell's Farewell Song Hits Home With Alzheimer's Families

By    |   Friday, 31 October 2014 11:48 AM

Glen Campbell has become the most visible face of Alzheimer’s since Ronald Reagan. The country music legend’s new song and video, “I'm Not Gonna Miss You,” is a heartrending musical reflection on his battle with dementia — one that is hitting home with relatives and advocates of Alzheimer’s sufferers across the country.

The song, which went viral shortly after its release this month, is just the latest in a series of courageous efforts by the Campbell family to publicize the singer-guitarist’s struggles with the memory-robbing disease, Newsmax TV’s “Meet the Doctors” reports.
 
Few people outside of Campbell's wife, Kim, and three children have felt the pain of his declining mental health as deeply as Jimmy Webb, the legendary songwriter who wrote the rhinestone's cowboy biggest hits, including "Wichita Lineman" and "By the Time I get to Phoenix." In a Newsmax interview, Webb called the Campbells’ decision to go public with his story “difficult and brave,” adding: "Believe me, if there were a way for me to change this lyric, I would. Glen is one of my dearest friends."
 
Story continues below video.
 
 
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Campbell first revealed he has Alzheimer’s three years ago, when the condition forced him to curtail his touring and recording. He then went on to do a farewell tour that was filmed for a new documentary: Glen Campbell … I'll Be Me” that follows him on the road and chronicles the progression of his disease.

Webb said the early indications of Campbell's advancing dementia were subtle. He’d occasionally forget the words to some of his favorite songs while the two were performing together several years ago, Webb recalled. But only those who knew him well would notice the memory lapses.
 
"It just started out with him like maybe forgetting a couple of lines in a song and I'd kind of look at him and I'd think, you know, time to cut back on the red wine or something like that," said Webb.
 
But before long, it became clear those little episodes were more than just minor bouts of forgetfulness.
 
Webb and his wife, Laura Savini, have been in close contact with the Campbell family through the various phases of the disease.

"There's certain stages of the disease where — I don't know how to put this, but — it's almost like cute. There's an endearing quality to it, almost like having a child, having a very precocious child," Webb said. "But then it goes from there very quickly to a place where it's no longer that, it's something else. And it really requires constant attention."
 
Webb called Campbell "a true musical genius" and said the man was an important inspiration in his youth. He said he first heard Campbell on the radio as a teen growing up on a farm in Elk City, Okla., and decided he wanted to write music.
 
He called "Wichita Lineman," which won a Grammy in 1968, "a perfect record." In light of Campbell's advancing dementia, the song has taken on a poignant new meaning — particularly in the fading walk-off  line: "He's still on the line."
 
Webb noted that he last collaborated with Campbell on a duet of "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" — another Grammy winner — for the songwriter's 2010 duets album, "Just Across the River." It marked both the first and last time that the two sang the track together.
 
"I'm so glad that we have that because he was in such good voice that day," Webb recalled.
 
Although Webb's songs have been performed by many artists over the years — including Frank Sinatra ("Didn't We"), Art Garfunkel ("All I Know”), Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings ("The Highwayman"), the Fifth Dimension ("Up, Up and Away"), Joe Cocker ("The Moon's a Harsh Mistress"), Donna Summer, Richard Harris ("MacArthur Park"), and Brad Paisley ("Galveston") — Campbell has been the most public voice for his music.
 
"We were counting up the other day that he's recorded about 70 or 80 different songs of mine," Webb said. "So basically, he would record everything that I wrote and out of those songs came some hits. But certainly not all of them were hits and some of them are just absolutely gorgeous and nobody ever heard them.
 
"He recorded 'The Highwayman' first — before Johnny Cash and Willie and Kris and those guys. And he recorded so many other things of mine. He was the first to record them and they actually went on to become hits for somebody else."
 
Campell’s new release, “I'm Not Gonna Miss You,” was recorded in 2013.  
 
"I'm still here but yet I'm gone, I don't play guitar or sing my songs," Campbell begins, then pays tribute to his wife, Kim, singing, "You're the last person I will love, you're the last face I will recall."
 
In the accompanying video, Campbell's moving lyrics are punctuated by personal videos and clips of performances marking his five-decade musical career. Among the film’s most striking images: Footage of a doctor showing Campbell X-rays of his brain and explaining how the disease will steal his memory.

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Glen Campbell's new song and video, 'I'm Not Gonna Miss You,' is a heartrending musical reflection on his battle with dementia - one that is hitting home with relatives and advocates of Alzheimer's sufferers across the U.S.
glen, campbell, song, meet, doctors, alzheimer
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Friday, 31 October 2014 11:48 AM
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