Cow­boy rides no more

Geraldton Guardian - - Guardian | Opinion - Grant Wood­hams

It was Au­gust 8, 2017.

“Like a rhine­stone cow­boy rid­ing out on a stage at a star span­gled rodeo . . .”

The singer was man­gling the words and his gui­tar sounded like it had three strings miss­ing, but I stopped and tossed a 50-cent piece into his hat.

A busker’s life is a tough one.

He was play­ing in a tun­nel that pro­vides a pedes­trian un­der­pass be­neath a cou­ple of ma­jor city streets.

It was a good place to be on a cold, wet Au­gust night.

I con­tem­plated the words to the fa­mil­iar song. The busker looked as much like Glen Camp­bell, the man who had made the song fa­mous, as I looked like John Len­non.

Why he had cho­sen to sing Camp­bell’s al­most sig­na­ture tune was be­yond me.

It wasn’t un­til the next day I read the great man who had pro­duced a dozen or so hit songs in the 1960s and 1970s had died.

He was born in Arkansas in 1936 and he died in Tennessee early last month.

He truly was a coun­try boy who found world­wide fame.

Sadly, he was di­ag­nosed with Alzheimer’s in his later life. I’m not go­ing to list all the great Camp­bell tracks or give you a run­down of his amaz­ingly suc­cess­ful ca­reer.

But I will con­fess to ab­so­lutely lov­ing Wi­chita Line­man and By The Time I Get To Phoenix.

Camp­bell was an im­mensely tal­ented per­former in an era when most of the mu­sic you heard on the ra­dio was de­scribed as pop­u­lar, or “pop”.

As a con­se­quence, in those days most peo­ple got to hear and know Camp­bell, not like the fol­low­ing decades when heavy metal, punk, grunge, rap and count­less other un­lis­ten­able de­riv­a­tives pushed pop mu­sic aside.

But Camp­bell was be­yond mere pop­u­lar­ity, his ap­peal last­ing well into his late 70s.

His last public per­for­mance was in 2012, though he was still singing in 2014.

There is another rea­son why I par­tic­u­larly like Camp­bell — you see he un­know­ingly be­stowed a ti­tle on me that I have cher­ished to this day.

I thought about it when my busk­ing friend hacked into the next line — “Like a nine-stone cow­boy, Get­ting cards and let­ters from peo­ple I don't even know, And of­fers comin’ over the phone”.

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