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Glen Campbell’s country-pop hybrid music featured in the soundtrack of my youth, so hearing ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’ on the radio after his death last week left me feeling both nostalgic and a little melancholy. I also remembered that he definitely was NOT Hispanic.
I should probably explain that last bit…Back in junior high, our music teacher offered extra credit for spending free periods listening to records and writing down the lyrics. She would copy these lyric sheets and we’d use them in class. She could play accompaniment by ear, and we got to sing Top 40 hits instead of moldy old songs from our songbooks.
One day, singing ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’, we came to the part about ‘no compromising on the road to my horizon’. But the song sheet read: ‘there’s been a road come from mizen on the road to my hurizen’. Huh? The girl who had written up that song, seeing our confusion, said, ‘Yeah, it’s strange, huh?…I didn’t know he was Spanish. Because isn’t he blonde?’
Right. I don’t know whether she had a hearing deficiency, wasn’t paying close attention, or was simply not that bright, but I’ll never forget that day and how hard we laughed. The song brought it all back. Music can do that.
At the end of a decades-long career, suffering from the beginning of Alzheimer’s disease, Campbell went on one last tour. He said he wanted one more chance to share the songs he loved to play with the people who had loved to hear them. Music was his touchstone, and he wasn’t quite ready to give it up.
Like music, wine can conjure up memories. Chilled Sancerre is a carefree summer evening on my back porch. A particular French rosé reminds me of vacations with some old friends. And rosé Champagne never fails to make me think of my daughter’s birth-we opened a bottle and rubbed a few drops on her lips so her first taste would be of beauty.
These connections-with food, wine, music-are a powerful unifying force. Shared experiences and memories can bring together otherwise diverse peoples. As the summer races to its end, I hope you savor the wonderful meal, the gorgeous glass of wine, the hauntingly beautiful song.
RIP, Mr Campbell. Thanks for the memories.