From the moment we hear those golden tones delivering a jaunty “Galveston” or a mournful “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” there’s no mistaking that we’re listening to Glen Campbell.
Thanks to producer Carl Jackson, working closely with Campbell’s family, we have the chance to hear that memorable voice, as well as some special guitar playing, one last time on his farewell album Adiós.
Just after his farewell tour in 2012, Campbell’s wife, Kim, long-time family friend Jackson, and Campbell’s family decided that it was a perfect time to get Campbell, who was then rapidly declining in his struggle with Alzheimer’s, back into the studio to sing some of his favorite songs he never recorded before.
These are songs he’ll sit down and play on his guitar in his living room says Jackson, who joined Campbell’s band at 18 as a banjo player.
The album kicks off with a jaunty take on Fred Neil’s “Everybody’s Talkin’,” a tune that Campbell played in 1973 on the The Sonny and Cher Comedy Show, but never recorded himself.
Harry Nilsson (a good friend of Glen) previously released this song which also appears in the movie Midnight Cowboy lacks the light-hearted energy of Campbell’s take on the tune. Campbell’s daughter Ashley propels the song with her brisk and lively banjo playing, turning it into a breezy bluegrass tune.
Campbell takes the song to another level with his vocal modulations in the second chorus, making the song his own.
Campbell has always been a master of the plaintive love song, words filled with sweet regret, of hopes dashed, of moments not consummated.
He fills Jimmy Webb’s “Just Like Always” with that mournful tone, but he handles the vocals in a lilting jazz style that disguise the loss he’s feeling.
“Arkansas Farmboy” tells the story of Campbell’s life.
Jackson, who also sings harmony on this tune, recalls: “I wrote it on a flight in the mid-late 1970s on an overseas flight. Glen had told me the story of his granddaddy buying him his first guitar for $5 at Sears & Roebuck. He learned how to play ‘In the Pines’ on it, and the rest is history, of course. The title just popped into my head; that’s what he was, just an Arkansas farm boy.” In moment of songwriting genius, Jackson opens with the lead riff from “In the Pines,” a motif that then flows beneath the entire song.
The two most beautiful songs on the album—“Postcards from Paris” and the title track—not only capture the exalted tones of Campbell’s voice, but they also express a deep longing for a closeness that distance can never overcome.
Jimmy Webb’s “Postcards from Paris,” which Campbell’s daughter Ashley describes as “one of my dad’s favorite Jimmy Webb songs,” opens with Catherine Marx’s cascading piano and Campbell’s spare vocals that express his loneliness.
The song builds to a crescendo with a heavenly chorus of Campbell’s children Ashley, Cal, and Shannon singing “I wish you were here.” The singer promises that “I’ll never leave you alone again/I’m coming home/but until then/I wish you were here.”
“Adiós,” another Jimmy Webb song, fittingly closes the album; a fluid little Spanish-guitar-inflected tune, the song bids farewell to dreams while also reveling in the glories of a deeply lived life.
The closing lines of the song—“Our dreams of endless summers/Were just too grandiose/Adiós, adios/And I’ll miss the blood red sunset/But I’ll miss you the most/Adiós, adiós Adiós, adiós Adiós, adios”—will bring a few tears to anyone’s eyes.
Rounding things up this cover drenched farewell album is the perfect way for Glen and his close relatives to close the door of an impressive career.
There isn't a better way to say farewell to the fans then to play the songs you love the most. And this is something you clearly hear.
Glen sings from the heart with emotion.