Cowboy rides no more
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”.