I watched Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me the other day. I should have known better, having read the synopsis:
As he struggles with Alzheimer’s disease, country-music legend Glen Campbell embarks on his farewell tour in the U.S., Australia, and Europe.
It’s a fly-on-the-wall, warts and all portrayal of how the disease utterly debilitates the sufferer, the strain it puts on all those around them. It’s utterly compelling, but absolutely heart-breaking.
Between shows, you see him veer from being totally lucid, to suddenly having no idea where he is or who he’s talking to, even if it his wife and kids. He gets frustrated, angry, paranoid.
That changes when he performs. His muscle memory, if you like, his instinctive ability to recall songs wins through, and those moments are a joy to behold.
But as the tour progresses, you see him unravelling more and more frequently on stage. The footage from the final show of the tour is really quite upsetting; you see Campbell go off on rambling monologues to the audience in between songs, complaining that his “hair itches”, before launching into, ironically, the classic Gentle On My Mind. And for a few moments, all is well again.
Until Campbell goes into the guitar break, which just goes on and on and on and on and is out of time with the band, who he begins to berate and…it’s just so, so sad.
I’d recommend your watching it, but, my, you really have to be in the right frame of mind.
In 2017, Campbell released Adiós, a collection of re-recorded or remastered versions of all his most loved songs, and many others, presumably as a way to enhance those moments when his instincts kicked in and took him back to when he first played them.
Here’s the updated version of Gentle On My Mind from said album: