Glen Campbell has entertained millions of us for decades

I have always had a host of reasons to be a big fan of Glen Campbell.

I have enjoyed his music for over 50 years. He is a Christian and he has some wonderful Christian recordings.

Many people know that Glen is having difficulty with Alzeheimer’s Disease after the airing of the documentary, Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me, on CNN. It chronicled his farewell tour, a sad but gripping look at the ravages of Alzheimers. Amazingly, he gave some remarkable performances.

On his website, songwriter Jimmy Webb gave a summer update on a visit to Glen Campbell, who is now in a “memory support community.” He gets 24-hour care and is constantly visited by friends and family.

Glen Campbell is not a perfect person. We Christians are not perfect – just forgiven. He made mistakes with substance abuse but if you listen carefully to his later music and see his interaction with family, you see that his faith is genuine and deep.

He grew up as the seventh son of a sharecropper in Delight, Arkansas. Glen actually was from Billston, but it was so tiny he referred to it as a “suburb” of Delight (population 279). He left Arkansas for Hollywood in 1960 with $300 in his pocket.

Then began the American Dream.

Campbell played guitar for the Beach Boys and when Brian Wilson had problems, he joined the band. That led to his own hit records.

From 1969 to 1972, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour was “must-see” TV. It had up to 50 million viewers.

When John Wayne signed to play Rooster Cogburn in True Grit, he insisted that Glen Campbell play the young bounty hunter LaBoeuf from Texas. Campbell recorded the theme song for the movie, which was nominated for an Academy Award.

Glen Campbell had never acted before True Grit. He really thought of himself as a singer and guitar player. There was tension between Campbell and Director Henry Hathaway. At one point, Campbell threatened to leave the set and go back to Los Angeles.

But he agreed to do the movie because of his respect for John Wayne and the chance to get to work with him.

“It was just amazing,” Campbell recalled in an interview a few years ago. “He was so much like my dad. He was a very nice guy.”

John Wayne won an Oscar for his role in True Grit.

“I made John Wayne look so good in a movie,” Campbell said, “that he won his only Oscar.”

Glen Campbell played the guitar in Frank Sinatra’s version of Strangers in the Night. Glen played concerts in the White House twice and had two private shows for Britain’s royal family.

Glen Campbell had 81 hit songs on the charts. He won five Grammy Awards, three Grammy Hall of Fame honors and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. He had three American Music Awards, two Country Music Association Awards and in 2005, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

And he has won three Gospel Music Association Dove Awards.

Some of his biggest secular hits are Gentle on My Mind; By the Time I Get to Phoenix (which mentions Oklahoma); Wichita Lineman, Galveston, Rhinestone Cowboy and Southern Nights.

My favorite album is Show Me Your Way with The Greatest Gift of All (with Russ Taff); Jesus and Me; Where I Am Going; Wayward Son; Unto the Least of These; Show Me Your Way, Oh Lord (with Anne Murray); This Savior I Sing of Today; A Few Good Men; Where Shadows Never Fall (with Kelly Nelon); and The Four Horsemen.

I first found that CD in a Christian bookstore in Branson. The Four Horsemen, written by Jimmy Webb (who is from Oklahoma), jumps right out of the Book of Revelation and is a sobering song of predictions of End Times.

Glen Campbell’s version of Only One Life is something every believer should watch.

Another video that is spectacular is a duet by the late Jerry Reed and Glen Campbell of Guitar Man, a wonderful song made famous by Elvis.

During an interview in 1998, Campbell was asked, “Was your ultimate goal to become a recording, touring artist?”

“Well, I don’t really know,” he said. “My ultimate goal is to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, and then see God. That’s my ultimate goal.”

Here are the lyrics to his song, A Better Place.

“I’ve tried and I have failed, Lord

I’ve won and I have lost

I’ve lived and I have loved, Lord

Sometimes at such a cost

One thing I know

The world’s been good to me

A better place

Awaits you’ll see

Some days I’m so confused, Lord

My past gets in my way

I need the ones I love, Lord

More and more each day

One thing I know

The world’s been good to me

A better place

Awaits you’ll see, ooh

A better place…”