Glen Campbell died today, and I was glad to have seen him perform in person one time, in Ireland no less in 2006.
I had bought tickets for Nebra and me for the Midlands Music Festival primarily to let my favorite singer, Van Morrison, mesmerize me again, only this time in his native land. I didn’t even realize then Campbell was on a card with Don McLean and the headliner, Dwight Yoakam.
We were on our way back toward Dublin from the West Country and had stayed the previous night in a B&B at rainy Mullingar, about 25 miles distant. The rain faded, and the next afternoon we drove up in the rental car to the festival site at Ballinlough Castle as sun broke through clouds.
It was surreally beautiful.
The 17th Century castle stretches out on a rural hilltop overlooking two lakes with the stage on the slope. I recall seeing some colorful clothing hanging out to dry in a castle window as we swilled a few beers (photo) and waited. Only a few thousand hard-core fans showed up defying the prospects of more rain, most laying out like us on blankets spread in the summer grass.
Campbell was not at his best that day. Alzheimer’s had already started its dirty work on his mind. His daughter, Ashley, sang at his side, raising her voice when he stumbled over the words or sang off key. I remember thinking it was an embarrassing performance.
But now 11 years later, I don’t care so much about the quality.
It was a great moment to see Campbell fighting to do what he no doubt loved, and doing it in front of a crowd, even if they were mostly Irish..
Yes, that, and realizing the tragedy that was unfolding.