Wichita Lineman? Check. Galveston? Check. Rhinestone Cowboy? Check, check and check.
Tommy Smothers saddled up on a hippopotamus? GRAVY!
If it’s been a while since you’ve seen television’s original Good Time guy, Glen Campbell, on the tube, Thursday night’s episode of The Chris Isaak Hour, has everything you’re hoping for and then some. With one caveat.
Because Campbell’s public appearances have been few and far between of late, you may need a few moments to adjust to the reality that the once boyish-faced Campbell is now 70-something, not above a little Burt Reynolds-esque “freshening” and sometimes a tad quavery in the pipes.
Does it diminish the pleasure of spending an hour with the pride of Delight, Arkansas, and a reverential Isaak? Hell, no.
Especially when the two grab guitars mid-conversation and perform an impeccable, impromptu duet of Hank Williams’ “Lovesick Blues.” Or when Campbell’s face positively radiates pleasure at the memory of buying his parents a home with electricity and hot and cold running water as soon as success gave him the means to do so.
You’d be hard pressed to find a performer more omnipresent on the entertainment landscape throughout the ’60s and ’70s— a fact underscored by Isaak holding up a copy of the improbable-but-real album “Sebastian Cabot, Actor/Bob Dylan, Poet” and announcing, only half kidding, that it may be the single disc on which Campbell didn’t perform during that era. And, indeed, the hour is peppered with Campbell’s pop culture contributions, from an early gig teaching Steve McQueen to hold a guitar convincingly on film, to Campbell’s time in Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound, to his contributions to Elvis’ “Viva Las Vegas,” to the perils of making too much eye contact with Ol’ Blue Eyes.
But Campbell also candidly discusses his descent into alcohol and cocaine abuse, crediting his wife Kim and his children for saving his life and his career. And he is obviously tickled to share that three of those children, sons Cal and Shanon, and daughter Ashley have inherited the musical gene — the evidence of which is right there in Campbell’s band. Cal is his dad’s drummer, Shanon plays guitar and joins Ashley (who shows off a stunning crystalline soprano) on backup vocals.
Quick note to the kiddies and hipsters: Campbell isn’t just your mom and dad’s musician anymore. Tune in to catch him doing two tracks — Tom Petty’s “Walls” and Green Day’s “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” — from “Meet Glen Campbell,” his critically acclaimed 2008 compilation of pop, rock and alternative covers.
You should stay in the room, too, Mom and Dad.