Sunday, September 17, 2017

Something Completely Different

While I don't do it often, I keep seeing folks on my regular reading list posting a little music on weekends, especially Sundays.  I don't do that as a rule, and I'm not planning to, but I came across what I thought to be a remarkable performance by Glen Campbell in a link from Acoustic Guitar magazine.

Acoustic Guitar tells the story:
Glen Campbell first heard The Lone Ranger’s brisk theme song as a kid and vowed to learn it on guitar. Not only did he do just that, Campbell made the theme—an overture from the 1829 opera William Tell, by the Italian composer Gioachino Rossini—one of his signature numbers. He revisited it throughout his career, wowing audiences by playing it with casual ease, sometimes with the guitar on top of his head. [link added - SiG]
I would never describe myself as a Glen Campbell fan and never thought of him as a virtuoso guitarist.  In my mind, Glenn Campbell associates with his late '60s hits: Wichita Lineman, Galveston, By The Time I Get to Phoenix, and that's about all.  Maybe the stereotype of country music: "three chords and the truth".  That said, I find this an amazing performance.  Not just the blazing speed, but the casual, almost carelessness he plays with.  Virtually all guitarists, no matter how many years they've played, spend a lot of time watching their left hand on the neck. Glenn glances there, but looks around a lot, too.  He seems to be talking to people out of the view of the camera.

It brings to mind another cliche' I've heard about music in general.  Practice a thing perfectly a thousand times and you play it well.  Practice it a thousand times a thousand and it plays itself through you.  I think the William Tell overture is playing itself through Glen.


  1. Glen Campbell was an extremely capable musician. It's a shame so many only remember a few of his early hits.

  2. He was a studio player before he became a noted singer.

  3. WOW!! My fingers ache just watching that!!

  4. Glen did not read music, as I recall. He needed to hear the music once, then could play it flawlessly. He remained a studio musician almost all his life. And, he did numerous hits as backup support. For Frampton, and others that you would not think would have been friends. Quality counts. According to some, he was in the top 3 or 4 guitar musicians globally for years.

  5. Campbell played by ear his whole life, and was, right until his death, probably one of the top four of five guitarists in the world, bar one.

    From Rolling Stone's obit:

    "In 1963 alone he appeared on 586 cuts [for other bands and artists], and countless more throughout the decade, including the Byrds' "Mr. Tambourine Man," Elvis Presley's "Viva Las Vegas,” Merle Haggard's "Mama Tried" and the Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling."

    In 1968, one of his biggest years, he outsold the Beatles."

    1. I've listened to a few more videos today. I'm hearing things I never paid attention to before, and he really was quite amazing.

      Glen did not read music, as I recall. He needed to hear the music once, then could play it flawlessly. Not reading standard notation is not that uncommon.

      Guitar is difficult to read for because other than the highest and lowest notes on the guitar, a written note appears in two or three places on the neck and each place sounds different; tonal differences from the length of string vibrating and the harmonics it supports. Usually, you don't sit down with a new sheet of music and sight read; you figure out the best place on the neck to play it.