Glen Campbell is finished with music.
When he was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2011, he launched a farewell tour which was not surprisingly fraught with problems. Campbell forgot lyrics and keys, complained he couldn’t hear, regularly turned his back to the audience, and often became agitated or disoriented on stage, but he still went on for every show. His fans were so supportive that he managed to get through it and deliver some wonderful (if troubled) performances. Now that the disease has progressed to stage 6, he is no longer able to perform and his family has moved him into a memory center – a nursing home specifically designed for Alzheimer’s sufferers.
Recorded in January of 2013, his final song release, “I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” is a memoir of his life and career and is particularly dedicated to his wife, Kim, with whom he’s shared 32 years of marriage. The lyrics that illustrate his self-awareness about his condition, fleeting as that awareness was, are heartbreaking.
“You’re the last person I will love
You’re the last face I will recall
And best of all
I’m not gonna miss you”
In the video, his wife stands in the booth smiling at him as he sings, and I don’t know how she got through it. Their 3 children were all part of the band for his farewell tour. That must have been so hard on all of them.
He wrote the song in connection with a documentary made about his experience with the disease and his final tour. It opened in New York on October 24, and a wider release is expected to follow soon. “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me” features interviews with Bill Clinton, Paul McCartney, Bruce Springstein, and many others talking about Campbell’s impact on their lives and on their music. I missed the initial showing, but I’m certainly going to get myself there as soon as I can.