Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Glen Campbell - Burning Bridges

Last week we told you about a brand new book coming out about the life of Glen Campbell, written by his daughter Debby with noted pop music biographer Mark Bego.  
I'm really looking forward to this one ... and Mark agreed to talk with us about it.     

FORGOTTEN HITS:  What made you want to co-write “Burning Bridges” with Debby Campbell?    
MARK BEGO:  I first met Debby Campbell in September of 2011, right after she left her dad’s concert act after 24 consecutive years on stage and on the road with Glen.  On our first encounter she told me such compelling and passionate stories about her joys, her disappointments, and her unwavering love for her father, that I was immediately fascinated.  She frankly told me about how she often had to fight to have a relationship with Glen.  With four wives and eight children — and highly publicized affair with Tanya Tucker — Glen Campbell had lots of distractions in his career.   

FH:  How does Debby’s tale differ from Glen’s 1994 book Rhinestone Cowboy?  (A great book, by the way ... I've read it a couple of times!)  I imagine Glen's story is told from a much different perspective this time around.    
MB:  In Burning Bridges Debby tells stories of her challenges and her heartbreak as a child of divorce, and her desire to relate to her dad, whom she refers to as an often “absentee father.”   Debby frankly tells about her shock as a teenager when she found out about Glen’s heavy cocaine use, as she watched his bouts with problem drinking, and her frustrations as she watched him repeatedly starting up a family, having children, going through divorce-after-divorce, and then moving on to his next relationship.

FH:  During the past two years there's been a lot of press about Glen's bout with Alzheimer's ... certainly it's a sad ending to a fascinating story of a remarkable music career ... honestly, one cannot help but wonder how much of his own story Glen would remember at this time ... without question, the interest is there for his millions of fans.  His farewell tour last year packed houses across the nation.  This seems like a really good time to attack this subject matter and get these stories out there.  Hearing this story told from his daughter's perspective makes for an interesting presentation.    
MB:  Just like we observed the sad and inevitable passing of Johnny Cash in 2003, we are watching the slow career “fade out” of country legend Glen Campbell.  As we witness Alzheimer’s disease slowly robbing him of his memories, and taking him out of the active spotlight, we are all suddenly valuing him more and more each day.  His extended “Goodbye Tour,” and his recent albums Ghost on the Canvas (2011) and See You There (2013), have made us appreciate him and his musical talent all the more.

FH:  What is the dynamic of Glens’ family, and how does Debby fit into it?     
MB: Debby is his oldest child, from the first of four marriages.  As is the nature of divorces, it is often the children who suffer the most.  Debby is no different.  Although some of this book is breezy and amusing, much of it is blunt and heartbreaking.  This is a story that only Debby could write.  She tells her story from the 1950's to the present in a unique and touching way with both depth and understanding.  However, as per the nature of Alzheimer’s Disease, as Glen’s memories fade it is his oldest daughter — Debby — whom he will remember the longest.  This book is about a daughter’s unwavering love for her father.    

FH:  Why is this book called Burning Bridges?    
MB:  The song “Burning Bridges” was one of Glen’s earliest 1960's hits, and it was also the first song that Debby sang professionally on stage with her dad in the late 1980's.  In 2011 it was not her father’s doing to let her go from the touring act, but it was due to backstage scheming a behind-the-scenes “power play” by others.  In the book, Debby fully realizes that she is telling such frank stories that she is about to burn some significant bridges of her own.  Now it is time for Debby to tell her story of life with her father — frankly and compassionately.  It is a story that goes all the way back to the 1950's when Glen had his first dreams of fame in the music industry.    

FH:  How do you view Glen Campbell’s position in popular music history?  While he had a HUGE career in country music with some pop cross-over success, a very successful television series, made a couple of movies and played to sold out audiences around the world, I have always felt that Glen Campbell still remains under-appreciated for his musical contributions.  As a session player alone this man belongs in The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.  He was even a Beach Boy for a brief period in time!  I'm glad to see some of these career milestones receive the accolades they so rightfully deserve.     
MB:   The career-long accolades due to Glen Campbell have just recently begun to be lavished upon him.    In the world of contemporary country music, there are few performers in the last 50 years whose careers have exceeded the accomplishments of Glen Campbell.  His heralded “Goodbye Tour” — which Debby Campbell was originally a part of — and the scope and depth of Glen’s career are just the tips of the iceberg that has been a life lived in the heat of the spotlight.  Glen’s 1960s guitar work as part of the studio musician troupe The Wrecking Crew.  Glen played guitar, Leon Russell was on keyboards, David Gates on bass, and Hal Blaine was on drums and they played on hit recordings by no less than Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin, Dean Martin, The Monkees, Freddy Cannon, and even Elvis Presley’s immortal “Viva Las Vegas.”  Then he went on to create his own music, and hits including “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Galveston,” “Wichita Lineman,” and “Gentle on My Mind.”  He became the first person to win two Grammy Awards for a Country song and simultaneously win two Grammys for a Pop song with the same night.  The he landed a top-rated TV show of his own:  The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour.  Debby recounts what it was like living with her dad during the years he was also heralded as movie star as well, via his role in the film True Grit, and others.  After his career went through a cooling down phase, a decade later he returned to the top of the charts with another string of hits including:  “Rhinestone Cowboy” (1975), “Country Boy (You Got Your Feet in L.A.)” (1975), and “Southern Nights” (1977).   He as a recording star, a TV star, a concert draw, and a handsome and charismatic movie star.  Imagine the excitement of growing up with Glen Campbell as your father!  That has been Debby Campbell’s life.     

Well, it sounds like a GREAT book, Mark, and I can't wait to read it.  Thank you for taking the time to talk with our readers today.  (And watch for the new book, "Burning Bridges", coming out October 14th!  (kk)

Three of my favorite Glen Campbell songs come from different phases of his career ... yet don't get a lot of airplay anymore.  (Hey, let's face it ... do you hear much of ANY Glen Campbell music on the radio anymore?!?!) 

Let's just say that all three of these definitely fit well in the Forgotten Hits category!

First up, from1969 and the hit television show era, "Try A Little Kindness" (#15 Pop, #2 Country) and a song that I think would still sound great on the radio every now and then.

Then, jumping ahead nearly ten years, Glen's last Top 40 Pop Hit, "Can Your Fool" (#38) from 1978.

And, finally, Glen's 1976 hit medley of "Don't Pull Your Love / Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye", a #27 pop hit that year (that also climbed to #4 on Billboard's Country Chart.)