After 60 years in the music business that touched over 70 albums earning a clutch of Grammy’s & CMA’s and creating many timeless country songs, Glen Campbell is on his final flourish with a magnificent album and a tour that is earning rave reviews. He is battling Alzheimer’s disease and facing the inevitable degradation of his memory.
‘Ghost On The Canvas’ is his final album of new songs. That is what it says on the sleeve notes and save for a miracle it will be. With this in mind the carefully selected songs have a poignancy that will bring a tear to the eye. It is an album of past dreams, valediction, thankfulness, love and pride. There is no time for sorrow but there is plenty of introspection. There is some regret but mostly it is celebrating a full and content life. Above all it is honest. It starts with ‘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 Some times, 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 A Better Place
‘It’s Your Amazing Grace’ is clearly directed to his (fourth) wife thanking her for what she has done and for caring for him now and in the future.“I hold my head in my hands and cry when I think of you It’s your amazing grace keeps us together” It’s Your Amazing Grace
Whilst there is no explicit reference to his medical condition ‘Hold On Hope’ feels as if he is trying to tell us about the disease that is eating him:Everybody’s got to hold on hope It’s the last thing that’s holding me” Hold On Hope
The most autobiographical song on the album is ‘A Thousand Lifetimes’:I’ve lived at least a thousand lifetimes Walked down a road with no end in sight I’ve seen miracles in moonlight And lonely goodbyes I’ve faced the consequence and sorrow Still I stood up and faced tomorrow I’ve had dreams I’ve feared and followed I found my way home I’ve held onto coal in my bare hands prayin’ for diamonds I’ve trusted in the words that to my face turned out were lying I’ve trapped and I have tripped and I have loved and I’ve abandoned I have washed upon the shore I’ve fallen, conquered demons I’ve broken down and broken up without a rhyme or reason I’ve held the ring of brass and many times smashed it to pieces Each breath I take Is a gift that I Will never take For granted A Thousand Lifetimes
Interspersed through the music are little snippets of tunes that link the songs together. Some work better than others but overall they add to the feeling on the record.
Some critics have felt that the album is too sentimental, but the Ironbath does not agree. There is a place in our world for an album that wears its heart on the sleeve. It is in every way a swan song and a fitting end to Glen Campbell’s career. If you have not heard the full album the Ironbath could not recommend it enough as it is a strong contender for album of the year.