Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Glen Campbell - I'll Be Me (Documentary)

Glen Campbell is a music legend, having come up from the ranks of the legendary Wrecking Crew, where he played on innumerable hits, to break out on his own and create a highly successful solo career. He had a hit TV show, appeared in movies (True Grit is probably the most famous), he was a comedian, songwriter, terrific singer and insanely good guitar player. He has sold millions of records and has been a household name.

Unfortunately, he now has Alzheimer's disease, and this movie documents his final tour in 2012 - an impressive 150 shows - where he - and his band - struggled to get through many of the concerts. He depended on a teleprompter to remember the lyrics and keep his place in the song, but when he strapped on a guitar, you could pretty much always depend on a stellar performance. He might not remember the name of the daughter standing next to him (several of his offspring played in his touring band and were all exceptional musicians), but he could still improvise an intricate, melodic and blazing-fast solo.

Behind the scenes, life was very difficult for his wife, family and friends as they dealt with his forgetfulness, temper, paranoia and other related issues. The camera crew follows them as they go to doctors' visits, as he screams at loved ones, as he wanders off aimlessly and as he gives acclaimed performances and even wins a lifetime achievement Grammy.

Many musical friends are interviewed - most of whom have had to deal with Alzheimer's in their personal life - as well as politicians from Nancy Pelosi to Bill Clinton, who want to highlight the seriousness of the disease and help to fund research.

This is one of the most difficult documentaries to watch, but it can also be inspiring as you see how much music has helped Glen deal with the disease, and even keep it somewhat at bay (which makes me want to go and play my guitar, in the hopes that it will help keep my mind sharp).

Incredibly sad to see a man this talented going through something this personal and debilitating, but courageous of Campbell and his family to help bring awareness of how this affects everyone involved, not just the person suffering. Catch it if you can.