Tuesday, February 07, 2012


Some of you may know that Glen Campbell has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease and has released a 'final album' Ghost on the Canvas (official video) and is on an extended farewell concert tour (details at the Campbell link above).

A while back, I had the opportunity to chat a bit with Campbell.  He was attending the President's Reception for new students and faculty which is held each year at the Pepperdine President's Residence.  I believe that one of his children, Ashley, was an incoming student that year, and President Benton invited Campbell to join the President's Midlife Crisis rock and roll band for a couple of tunes including a rousing rendition of the classic Johnny B. Goode.  As he was awaiting his turn on the stage, I started our conversation talking about Ovation guitars because I knew that he played one on his TV show, the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour.  In the 1960's, by way of a college friend connection (Henry Gleeson's dad worked for Kaman Sciences), I was able to get a very early production (#449) Ovation Balladeer, and as we chatted about his TV show and guitar playing, he reminded me that he has a line of Ovation guitars, designed by and named for him. Also, it turns out that Campbell was raised in the Churches of Christ, which is Pepperdine's affiliation.

Here are a couple of pictures of a 1976 Balladeer that is very similar to my circa 1966 guitar - the unique and ground-breaking feature was the single piece, molded composite back.  Charles Kaman was an engineer and a guitarist and along with his engineers, came up with the design as an acoustical enhancement.  Note the narrow neck - as I got older, my fat fingers have a hard time negotiating the frets, so I finally broke down and bought a wider-necked Martin.

As with all of us, time has marched on and Campbell had definitely aged since the halcyon days of the youthful guitar-playing singer.  

And like many celebrities, Campbell has a couple of mugshots, found here.  I would venture that you all can name a few of Campbell songs and perhaps even have a favorite that you would like to share in the comment section.  While I appreciate many of his tunes, I cannot say that any are on my Top 10, 25 or perhaps even 100.  However, among his many hits, this one is probably my favorite:

Written by Jimmy Webb

I am a lineman for the county.
And I drive the mainroad.
Searchin' in the sun for another overload.
I hear you singing in the wire.
I can hear you thru the whine.
And the Wichita Lineman,
is still on the line.

I know I need a small vacation.
But it don't look like rain.
And if it snows that stretch down south,
won't ever stand the strain.

And I need you more than want you.  And I want you for all time.
And the Wichita Lineman,
is still on the line.

And finally, for you old codgers [like me] here is a real blast from the past:



Just Wonderin' said...

Shouldn't that be "linePERSON for the county"? Or maybe just say he was a "line" for the county? Many pussified organizations now call the chairman a "chair" (a movable article, often made of wood, with seat, back, and legs, used for sitting). Would make as much sense.

Dr S said...

JW - I tend to agree about the 'chair'-talk. When I was a Chairman, I called myself a Chairman, and the other Division heads were either a Chairman or a Chairwoman as far as I was concerned.

Chair is also a verb, eh? :-)

Phil L. said...

Hey, Just, was "just wonderin'" why you don't give Dr. S's readers a bleepin' break.

Bizzy Brain said...

Wichita Lineman is my favorite Glen Campbell song. Something so haunting about it. I think of these modern day troubadours (Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Charlie Rich, etc.) as sensitive loners, often using alcohol and pills to uplift their melancholy spirits.
However, a true Wichita lineman is probably the opposite. If some babe lost interest in him, he could march into any honky-tonk bar and march out with practically any woman he wanted.

hoosierdaddy said...

Phil L - let's not be too hard on Just Wonderin' - probably got up on the wrong side of the bed, if he got up at all!

Dr S said...

Campbell fans - check this out: http://spectator.org/archives/2012/02/28/the-light-still-shines-on-glen#comment_760327

H/T to Cousin Steve for the link.

trekrider said...

"(#449) Ovation Balladeer"
Ovation has yet to make a production guitar that exceeds the first models, in sound or beauty. I have #495 and #1911. Yours was probably made in 67. Every bit of it handmade, from bowl to bridge.

Douglas E said...

trekrider - thanks for your comments, and I tend to agree with your assessment of Ovations. I played some of the newer models and decided to get a Martin rather than another Ovation. Interesting that you also have a 400 numbered Balladeer!