October 13, 2014

"You're the last person I will love/You're the last face I will recall/And best of all, I'm not gonna miss you."



Glen Campbell's final song expresses his graceful decline into Alzheimer's, finding comfort in his approaching inability to remember his wife, Kimberly Woollen, to whom he has been married since 1982. (Is it churlish to mention he had 3 wives before her?)

ADDED: The song, particularly the chords at the beginning, is reminiscent of the John Lennon song "Isolation."

IN THE COMMENTS: Many commenters express offense at my bringing up Campbell's life story as context for this song. One says: "Let the guy sing a song to his wife of 32 years and mind your own business about his prior personal life." I respond:
If he were singing it only to his wife, I would never have heard it. His people have made a video and are putting it out for us to consume. As such, opinions are invited, and it is our business.

They are seeking fame and wealth on a sentimental message, and it's entirely apt that the story of Campbell's marriages be attached to their enterprise.

Anyone who is dying deserves some sympathy, and it is interesting and sobering to contemplate a person losing all memory before dying and the effect this has on his loved ones.

But Campbell is a chance repository of this sympathy, and the things he did when he had his wits about him say more about the man who is now slipping away. If you care about humanity, you should care about who he really was, and not him as simply an exemplar of a disease.

84 comments:

RecChief said...

yes, it is.

DKWalser said...

He was a great musical talent. I miss him already.

paminwi said...

I second the "yes it is".

Bob R said...

The Wrecking Crew tells the story of the LA studio scene when Campbell got his start as a studio guitarist. It's a lot more admirable part of his life than later years. (The prose of the book is not all that great, but I enjoyed reading about that era.)

Meade said...

Churlish was GC, who seems to have cheated in at least 3 of his 4 marriages.

Ann Althouse said...

I was extremely touched by the story and the song, so I looked up his history to see whether the wife was his lifelong sweetheart or whatever.

I saw that he had 3 previous wives, one of whom was married to someone else when his affair with her began. From the linked Wikipedia article:

"Campbell has been married four times and is the father of five sons and three daughters, ranging in year of birth from 1956 to 1986. Campbell's eldest daughter is Debby, from his marriage (1955–59) to Diane Kirk.[26] After divorcing Kirk, Campbell married Billie Jean Nunley, a beautician from Carlsbad, New Mexico, who gave birth to Kelli, Travis, and Kane. They divorced in 1975. Shortly after, he had an affair with and later married singer Mac Davis's second wife, Sarah Barg, in 1976. They had one child together (Dillon) and then divorced in 1980, three weeks after Dillon's birth.[27] From 1980 to 1981 Campbell had a very public relationship with then 21-year-old country star Tanya Tucker that was the subject of supermarket tabloids for months.[28] Campbell has been married to Kimberly "Kim" Woollen since 1982.[29][30] Woollen was a Radio City Music Hall "Rockette" when she and Glen met on a blind date in 1981. They have three children together, Cal, Shannon and daughter Ashley[31] who have joined their father on stage since 2010 as part of his touring band.[32] Campbell, who was raised in the Church of Christ,[33] and Woollen both joined a Baptist church in Phoenix.[34] In a 2008 interview they said that they have been adherents of Messianic Judaism for two decades.[35]"

Other people are manipulating and managing his reputation and legacy right now, and we ought not to be dupes. Asking if I was being "churlish" was a nice way to put it. If you want to needle me about that, I will rewrite that sentence and talk more about propaganda. Be careful.

Curious George said...

Yes it is. Hey, didn't you have a husband before Meade?

Ann Althouse said...

It's knowing that your door is always open
And your path is free to walk
That makes me tend to leave my sleeping bag
Rolled up and stashed behind your couch
And it's knowing I'm not shackled
By forgotten words and bonds
And the ink stains that are dried upon some line
That keeps you in the backroads
By the rivers of my memory
That keeps you ever gentle on my mind


That's the biggest promo of lightweight relationships that was ever regularly beaten into the American mind.

Ann Althouse said...

Now, the "the rivers of [his] memory" are dried up in the way that happens to everyone with Alzheimer's, and we can feel sorry for him without blotting out our own, still vital memories of the things he stood for.

Bob R said...

By definition you are being churlish because the dominant manners of this time demand a "descent interval" in which only the most insipid, banal, comments can be made about the dead or those near death. The dominant manners are crap. Honor the dead by saying what you think. (I know I said something nice about Campbell, but the main thing I think about him is that too few people know what a craftsman he was before he made a clown of himself.)

DKWalser said...

That's the biggest promo of lightweight relationships that was ever regularly beaten into the American mind.

I think that song has a lot of competition for the title. Where do you rank Love the One You're With?

Michael K said...

Campbell was also an expert golfer and was one of the partners that launched Lynx golf clubs. They were the first, AFAIK, to make periphery weighted irons. They had a big rep at one time.

Lydia said...

Cruel indifference spills over into heartlessness.

Ann Althouse said...

"I think that song has a lot of competition for the title. Where do you rank Love the One You're With?"

Everyone knew what that song was when it came out, and it had little influence.

"Gentle on My Mind" was the theme song of a network TV show:

"The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour is an American network television music and comedy variety show hosted by singer Glen Campbell from January 1969 through June 1972 on CBS. He was offered the show after he hosted a 1968 summer replacement for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. Campbell used "Gentle on My Mind" as the theme song of the show. The show was one of the few rural-oriented shows to survive CBS's rural purge of 1971."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glen_Campbell#Relationships_and_children

That song was SO much more influential than "Love the One You're With" it's not even a subject for debate as far as I am concerned.

I'm not talking about lyrics alone. I'm talking about what was forcibly mainstreamed into American culture.

Ann Althouse said...

The song reminds me of some old George Harrison thing like "Just For Today" or "Isn't It a Pity."

m stone said...

There is a brief window before Alzheimer's sets in when you can think clearly enough to look back and see forward.

Glen hit it. The lyrics ring true to anyone who lives with an Alzheimer's person. And yes, he is a person to the end.

Yes, you are being churlish. Shame.

Kansas City said...

Let the guy sing a song to his wife of 32 years and mind your own business about his prior personal life. If you don't think his life warrants respect, then don't listen or enjoy the song.

I think a great deal of Ann, including her intelligence and judgment. I'm surprised that she resorted to a sort of "cattiness" [sorry about the word, I could not think of a better one] in this instance. If his prior personal life disqualified him from any admiration, then pass on saying anything about the song or him.

DKWalser said...

Althouse - I think it's alright to put Campbell's last song into it's proper context. He cheated on many if not all of his wives. However, he remained married to wife number 4 for over 30 years. That's a long time. Perhaps he learned something from his "disposable" relationships that made his last marriage more enduring?

Maybe he didn't.

The disease still robs him of the memories of a 30 year relationship. It's something my father and mother are going through right now and I found the song poignant. It was also comforting. My father is no longer my Dad. It's nice to think he's not pained by the loss of memory.

Nice, but untrue. He wakes in a panic thinking he's late for a Korean War pre-flight briefing, or he wonders who my mother is. It's not true that the sufferers of this disease live in a world of no worries, but it is nice to wish that were true.

Ann Althouse said...

I suspect that this song is written by others, and he is an unwitting puppet of their ambitions and vanity.

Rumpletweezer said...

"Gentle on My Mind" has always seemed like the flip side of "Brandy."

DKWalser said...

I suspect that this song is written by others, and he is an unwitting puppet of their ambitions and vanity.

You may be right. It still struck a cord with me. It's not a great song and I doubt I'll be buying a copy.

And, you're most likely right about the influence Gentle On My Mind had on our culture as opposed to Love The One You're With. Campbell's song may have helped move the culture in one direction while Still's song just reflected the mood of a growing part of our society.

Ann Althouse said...

"Gentle on My Mind" had a big impact on me when I was 18. I felt strongly impressed with a description of the ideal woman as the woman who could be dropped in on and then left completely at the man's option, making no demands and expecting absolutely nothing, but living utterly in the present.

Lydia said...

According to Rolling Stone, Campbell recorded the song in January 2013, and it was co-written with Julian Raymond.

Almost two years ago, when his condition was not as bad as it is now, so very possibly he actually contributed to the writing.

Kansas City said...

Who cares if he wrote it or contributed to it? Even with zero contribution, it may well reflect what he would think or what his loved ones think he would think. So what? Pass on the song if you are troubled by suspicions. Even if nothing but a stunt by others hoping to make more money off the man, who cares? Particularly if it might bring some comfort/joy to people?

Anonymous said...

My father had dimentia that took his memory a few years before his death at age 84. My mother took him to an adult daycare for several months and then found a memory care nursing home. He was very content as his world got smaller. He asked about his finances and where his wallet and car keys were but always accepted the answers that everything was being taken care of. I know that is not the case for everyone.

I had heard earlier that Glen Campbell was taking his religion seriously. I only know what I read in the press but it sounds like he did make changes in his behavior. His change can show others it is possible, and good for one's peace of mind.

I remember a time when it dawned on me that much of popular music is about broken love affairs, so if I listen regularly I am led to think about ways to leave your lover or valuing a relationship that avoids inkstains on lines. I purposefully avoid those kinds of songs in my listening choices.

hombre said...

It wouldn't seem so churlish if you have ever been married to anyone for 32 years. Have you?

Beloved Commenter AReasonableMan said...

I think some of you guys are taking the lyrics of pop songs way too seriously. It's never a good idea to put more thought into a piece of work than the creator did.

The Crack Emcee said...

"Is it churlish to mention he had 3 wives before her?"

I only had one and that quoted line sums up my feelings exactly,...

Anonymous said...

Is it churlish to mention he had 3 wives before her?

He doesn't remember.

Wilbur said...

I agree with ARM. These are just pop song lyrics, not the Essays of Montaigne.

It would never occur to me that "Gentle On My Mind" played any role whatsoever in shaping American culture. Any effect it might have had on an individual, including you, Professor, was idiosyncratic.

Mark said...

FWIW, Glen Campbell didn't write Gentle On My Mind, John Hartford did.

Bad Lieutenant said...

And of course you meant to credit the following, from comments at the link:


I think the song sounds like "Isolation" by John Lennon.
posted by Alizaria at 6:27 PM on October 13

madAsHell said...

"Love the One You're With"

Your never gonna sing "Ever Gentle on my Mind" at a camp fire while passing a bottle of whiskey.

Patrick said...

I've had only a mild interest in Glen Campbell, mostly that I loved Rhinestone Cowboy when it came out (I was in second grade). Never ever heard of Gentle on My Mind,let alone heard of it. My rough guess is that it had extremely little lasting cultural impact, and absolutely none for those now aged less than 60.

dwick said...

The Great Althouse may or may not be a keen legal mind... but a thoughtful interpreter of some popular songs not so much. As Mark noted here previously, 'Gentle On My Mind' was written by the tremendously talented folk, country and bluegrass composer and musician John Hartford - and wholly came about after his viewing of the film Doctor Zhivago. A review of the plot of that movie would reveal the much deeper meaning to the song than what the impressionable young Althouse glibly perceived here at age 18.

Ann Althouse said...

I am Alizaria!

Ann Althouse said...

Metafilter is the only place I write under a pseudonym. It's a very old account. Click on the name and you'll see it's me.

LOL.

Like I'm a plagiarist...

Ann Althouse said...

But I should credit my son John. He's the one that made the connection to " Isolation."

RecChief said...

"Other people are manipulating and managing his reputation and legacy right now, and we ought not to be dupes. Asking if I was being "churlish" was a nice way to put it. If you want to needle me about that, I will rewrite that sentence and talk more about propaganda. Be careful."


Why the fixation on Glenn Campbell's legacy, of all things? Why not let everyone else enjoy their fond memories of him? He wasn't even a favorite singer of mine.

Shit, if you want to focus on propaganda, and managing of legacies and so on, I can think of bigger fish to fry than Glenn Campbell

Wilbur said...

The only reason to watch "The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour" was the occasional appearance by semi-regular John Hartford.

That show title always reminds me of Tanya Tucker.

Carol said...

Loved his version of Faithless Love.

rhhardin said...

The song isn't the particular guy.

It's him telling her what it will be like played against what it's like for them now.

In the actual future he'll forget as foretold and she'll come to terms with it, that he's gone.

rhhardin said...

I get him confused with what's his name. John Denver, the Amelia Earhart of country music.

rcocean said...

Messianic Jews:

The US Navy made a decision that Messianic Jewish chaplains must wear as their insignia the Christian cross, and not the tablets of the law, the insignia of Jewish chaplains. According to Yeshiva World News, a website covering stories of Jewish interest, the Navy Uniform Board commanded that Michael Hiles, a candidate for chaplaincy, wear the Christian insignia. Hiles resigned from the program, rather than wear the cross.

rcocean said...

"Gentle on My Mind" had a big impact on me when I was 18. I felt strongly impressed with a description of the ideal woman as the woman who could be dropped in on and then left completely at the man's option, making no demands and expecting absolutely nothing, but living utterly in the present."

Yes, you really are a lawyer.

rcocean said...

"...the Amelia Earhart of country music"

Ouch. A twofer.

The Godfather said...

Alzheimer's is a great fear of the getting-old segment of the population -- I'd bet it ranks above cancer. I think that's why us oldsters found "The Notebook" so moving. Reagan went into that darkening night in (more or less) privacy, and I guess Glen will, too. But we knew, we knew.

I don't give a shit how many wives he had, or who wrote the songs he sang. Campbell is a human being, and we ought to pray (or whatever you non-religious types do) for him and his family. There's a rocky road ahead, even if Glen won't know it.

SteveR said...

It's a really bad way to lose someone. He was a talented performer and a great musician. Maybe even Shouting Thomas would agree, if he was awake.

wholelottasplainin' said...

Count me among the mindless millions who paid absolutely no attention to the lyrics of "Gentle on My Mind".

In fact, almost none us proles can recite the lyrics of *any* pop song, beyond the first few verses, unless they are repetitive.

And oh yes: it was the Left, Ms. Althouse,who ruthlessly mocked Ronald Reagan for his Alzheimers.

What opinions did you have about their jeering mockery?

Gary Rosen said...

"I'm talking about what was forcibly mainstreamed into American culture."

Oh please. Self-styled hipsters have been lamenting for decades that pop music somehow has been forced onto gullible Americans (obviously those not as wise or enlightened as said hipsters). But it actually doesn't happen that often that someone has a gun put to their head and forced to buy a record or watch a TV show or go to a movie. People like what they like.

traditionalguy said...

Hey,quit that. You made me cry. Campbell is too much like my family members.

traditionalguy said...

His song lyrics are good. But that is a thinker's analysis. It is his good Scotsman's personality that has always connected emotionally with me. Do you remember Campbell playing in John Wayne's True Grit.

rcommal said...

Pass on the song if you are troubled by suspicions.

You know, that there is a sentence that can be read in more than one way--and how apropos, given the context.

In all seriousness, I kid you not.

rcommal said...

Question: Can a sweetheart only be a sweetheart if lifelong, not to mention the only.

CStanley said...

Young people can be influenced by pop culture, but at some point you mature and recognize that you alone are responsible for the choices you make in life.

It's possible to do that but still harbor some negative feelings toward those who participated in the propaganda that is pop culture. What seems strange though is to project so much to this one song, one person, and to maintain so much ill will as to not even allow for the possibility that Campbell (perhaps belatedly) experienced some maturity and redemption.

Also odd to project the bad stuff onto Glenn Campbell personally but then refuse to allow him any credit for the current song. If this one is all the work of his PR people and handlers, then why isn't it also probable that the earlier stuff was?

Mid-Life Lawyer said...

FINALLY, we have someone with enough courage to take on the alzheimer stricken Glen Campbell.

Robert Cook said...

"...you're most likely right about the influence Gentle On My Mind had on our culture...."

"Gentle On My Mind" had no influence on public attitudes or behavior. In other words, no influence on our culture. At most, it can be considered a reflection of the attitudes already rippling through the culture, attitudes arising from the "love generation." As others have said, few probably knew the lyrics, or could understand them, given their prolixity, and most probably simply enjoyed the music of the song. It's a good song, but not as good as "Wichita Lineman."

As for Campbell's multiple marriages and affairs...well, no man's (or woman's) personality or behavior is free of flaws and failings, and given that mating is our prime directive, one cannot be surprised at the prevalence of "bad behavior" (sic) that involves mating behavior, but only surprise at those who are surprised by it, (such that they would negatively judge a person's life by such behavior).

Wince said...

Now that has to be my favorite song about Ebola.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

Ann said:
I'm not talking about lyrics alone. I'm talking about what was forcibly mainstreamed into American culture.


Are you forgetting that 1/2 of Americans have a <=100 IQ? Many WAY below that?

Those lyrics are above average, and many if not most folks' only takeaway from that song is the harmless title.

Anonymous said...

The Seventies were the Golden Age of the One-Night-Stand Song.

Touch me in the morning then just walk away
We don't have tomorrow but we had yesterday
Hey, wasn't it me who said that nothing good's gonna last forever?
And wasn't it me who said let's just be glad for the time together?

It must've been hard to tell me
That you've given all you had to give
I can understand you're feeling that way
Everybody's got their life to live

Ann Althouse said...

"Let the guy sing a song to his wife of 32 years and mind your own business about his prior personal life."

If he were singing it only to his wife, I would never have heard it. His people have made a video and are putting it out for us to consume. As such, opinions are invited and it is our business.

They are seeking fame and wealth on a sentimental message, and it's entirely apt that the story of Campbell's marriages be attached to their enterprise.

Anyone who is dying deserves some sympathy, and it is interesting and sobering to contemplate a person losing all memory before dying and the effect this has on his loved ones.

But Campbell is a chance repository of this sympathy, and the things he did when he had his wits about say more about the man who is now slipping away. If you care about humanity, you should care about who he really was, and not him as simply an exemplar of a disease.

Ann Althouse said...

""Gentle On My Mind" had no influence on public attitudes or behavior."

An extreme statement like that is almost necessarily wrong. (See what I did there?)

I don't know how old you are, Cook, but I was around 20 in the years when Campbell was a prominent star on network TV and that song was his theme song. We only had network TV back in those days before cable. So I don't know what is your basis for making that statement, even if you had avoided the extremism.

There were many songs with that theme at the time, that relationships were beautiful when they were short and weightless.

Another one was "We'll Sing in the Sunshine."

I should make a list. It was big. It was part of the sexual revolution and a counterpoint to the emerging women's movement.

I was there, and my memory is intact. Were you? Is yours?

Robert Cook said...

"I don't know how old you are, Cook...."

I'm 59 years old...today.

"There were many songs with that theme at the time, that relationships were beautiful when they were short and weightless."

Sure, but they didn't influence attitudes and behavior, they reflected attitudes and behavior in the culture.

Anonymous said...

"I think a great deal of Ann, including her intelligence and judgment. I'm surprised that she resorted to a sort of "cattiness" [sorry about the word, I could not think of a better one] in this instance. If his prior personal life disqualified him from any admiration, then pass on saying anything about the song or him."

My thoughts exactly. As someone else put it earlier, it is obvious that she feel a lot of hatred and this is an occasion for her to scenery-chew in the Theater of Hate.

I don't like that sort of thing. I think it's undignified and not credible. We are all God's children.

Patrick said...

Hey-happy birthday Robert. And many more.

Robert Cook said...

Well, thank you, Patrick.

CStanley said...

Happy Birthday, RC.

Sure, but they didn't influence attitudes and behavior, they reflected attitudes and behavior in the culture.

Strongly disagree with that, in that it's not either-or. It's a feedback loop.

CStanley said...

I should make a list. It was big. It was part of the sexual revolution and a counterpoint to the emerging women's movement

I find this pretty interesting and wish you would expand on it.

Are you saying that the free love movement was being used for two different agendas- one for women to be empowered to engage in lightweight relationships (or not, as they so pleased) but also men trying to co-opt that into opportunity for philandering?

I wasn't really there (born in '65 so I was a little kid) but I tend to think the feminist movement was well intentioned and needed but it went off the rails pretty early on. This might help explain it.

Meade said...

betamax, I always thought that song was about corn silage and a farmer's feelings for his John Deere diesel Model R while facing the repo man from the bank.

Until you opened my eyes (and ears - get it?) I always heard it as:

It must've been hard to pull me
You've given all you had to give
I can understand you're feeling that way
Every tractor's got their life to live

Well, I can say, "Goodbye" in the cold morning light
But I can't watch corn stand unharvested in the warmth of the night
If I've got to be strong
Don't you know I need to have tonight when you're gone?

'Till you go I need to lie here and think about
The last time that I'll clutch you in the morning
Then just close the silo door
Leave me as you found me, empty like before

Hey, wasn't it yesterday
We used to laugh at the diesel fumes behind us?
Didn't we run away and hope that time and the bank wouldn't find us
(Didn't we run like a Deere?)

Didn't we take each other
To a place where no one's ever been?
Yeah, I really need you near me tonight
'Cause you'll never take me there again

Let me watch you go with lingering diesel scents
We've seen how corn can grow,
now we'll see how corn ferments

Ann Althouse said...

"Sure, but they didn't influence attitudes and behavior, they reflected attitudes and behavior in the culture."

Where does culture come from?! You don't think prominent speakers/singers/writers contribute to the thought patterns of the people.

This is incomprehensible to me. Why do writers write?! What's the point of free speech?

PuertoRicoSpaceport.com said...

Irish Alzheimers:

Where you forget everything but the grudges.

John Henry

Ann Althouse said...

"Are you saying that the free love movement was being used for two different agendas- one for women to be empowered to engage in lightweight relationships (or not, as they so pleased) but also men trying to co-opt that into opportunity for philandering?"

A lot was going on at the same time, and I wouldn't identify 2 neat "agendas," but I think the women's movement followed on the sexual revolution as many women resisted the message or felt burned by it. And many women saw a promise that women could have everything men seek and formed hopes and expectations in terms of having a lot of sexual experiences with many partners and wanted to push back the old "double standard." All that sex and pressure to have sex sped up a lot of thinking on the subject.

I don't think men were "co-opting" the idea of having a lot of sex with many different partners. That was a long-standing wish that was well promoted in the 50s and 60s without any women's movement supporting it. I think the women's movement had more to do with not wanting women to be "sex objects," which was what the pop culture had mostly been promoting pre-1970.

CStanley said...

Thanks for your comments.

By co-opting, what I meant is that I see men exploiting the changes. Yes, there had previously been acceptance of "boys being boys." But at this turn in the culture, it seems to me that (some) men were accepting the idea that women could participate in casual sexual liaisons without moral judgement, but accepting it on terms that promoted their own agenda.

The mores prior to the 60s were that there were good girls and bad girls. Feminists wanted to abolish that. Men said fine, we'll accept that but then the women we previously would have felt obliged to marry and commit to will have to accept that we're going to keep things casual.

An oversimplification, of course, but the currents seem to have gone that way, in my perception.

Robert Cook said...

"Where does culture come from?! You don't think prominent speakers/singers/writers contribute to the thought patterns of the people."

I think popular songs and the writings of pop culture journalists reflect cultural attitudes that already exist. I think the changing thought patterns of the people influence speakers/singers/writers. Even literature follows reality. It may be that in the early stages of these cultural ideational shifts, when such attitudes are nascent, ill-defined, and initially confined to a small sub-segment of the society--popular songs, articles, movies and the like can put these attitudes in sharper relief, and can, by labeling such ideas, give people a focus on what is already happening around them, and can certainly influence the further, swifter, and wider acceptance or adoption of these attitudes.

The rare popular song, such as Dylan's "Blowing in the Wind," for example, can crystalize such nascent attitudes in such a way as to seem to have birthed them, but really such popular culture artifacts are merely saying what many are already thinking and feeling.

"Gentle On My Mind" is not one of those songs that compelled the serious attention of society. The behavior and attitude it describes was already a part of the so-called sexual revolution of the 60s.

K in Texas said...

I saw Glen Campbell in concert in a small venue 7 years ago. He was wonderful - and his daughter sang a duet with him. Alzheimer's is a terrible disease and I hope a treatment is found sooner than later.

MnMark said...

Famous, wealthy, good-looking men - especially performers like Campbell who stir fans' emotions and passions with the performances - are naturally going to indulge the male desire to have numerous attractive women. It's the norm of male behavior. I don't hold it against him. If you're a woman swept off your feet by a famous, wealth, good-looking man, you're a fool if you don't expect exactly that from the very beginning.

And women, especially very beautiful young women, have their own set of sex-related behavioral "flaws". It's just human nature.

The monogamy thing is really more meant for the beta men and second-class women who make up the bulk of society and need that stability.

Ann Althouse said...

"By co-opting, what I meant is that I see men exploiting the changes. Yes, there had previously been acceptance of "boys being boys." But at this turn in the culture, it seems to me that (some) men were accepting the idea that women could participate in casual sexual liaisons without moral judgement, but accepting it on terms that promoted their own agenda."

Of course, men took advantage of the new opportunities, but I think they had much more to do with creating the opportunity than the women did. To some extent, women were leveraging their power off the male desire (and lying to themselves about the desire they themselves felt).

"The mores prior to the 60s were that there were good girls and bad girls. Feminists wanted to abolish that."

Some did, some didn't. The pro-sex feminists were not the dominant group. There was a great deal of critique of sex, and pro-sex feminists were often seen as traitors, "sleeping with the enemy." Pro-sex feminism is dominant today, but not that many years ago, they were the ones suffering from false consciousness. Maybe they still are, but not one denounces them for it anymore.

"Men said fine, we'll accept that but then the women we previously would have felt obliged to marry and commit to will have to accept that we're going to keep things casual."

That's a big generalization. There has always been a struggle about sex and commitment, and men wouldn't be stalkers if they were always on the "casual" side.

"An oversimplification, of course, but the currents seem to have gone that way, in my perception."

Noted.

Ann Althouse said...

"I think popular songs and the writings of pop culture journalists reflect cultural attitudes that already exist. I think the changing thought patterns of the people influence speakers/singers/writers. Even literature follows reality. It may be that in the early stages of these cultural ideational shifts, when such attitudes are nascent, ill-defined, and initially confined to a small sub-segment of the society--popular songs, articles, movies and the like can put these attitudes in sharper relief, and can, by labeling such ideas, give people a focus on what is already happening around them, and can certainly influence the further, swifter, and wider acceptance or adoption of these attitudes."

Obviously, there is an ongoing interplay with no origin. You seem to be digging in and, incoherently, giving up. You know very well that writers, singers, and speakers influence people. Of course, the way to be influential is to strike a chord. But the striking of chords has been going on throughout the development of the culture. There is no beginning. It's silly to pretend that there is.

Robert Cook said...

"You know very well that writers, singers, and speakers influence people."

I don't believe I made the categorical statement they did not. I did say that writers and artists are influenced by what's going on in the culture, and they amplify this back to the culture. Cultural changes happen, and writers, singers, artists, etc. respond.

"Gentle On My Mind" didn't have any influence on culture as the attitude and behavior it described was already well established in the changing culture.

Kansas City said...

All my life I aspire to have one of my comments recognized by Ann Althouse, and now that I have finally reached the mountain top, it is one critical of my heroine, she omits the full context, and she provides an unusually weak response.

So everyone interested (which probably means me), I put in the full exchange:

KANSAS CITY (ME):
Let the guy sing a song to his wife of 32 years and mind your own business about his prior personal life. If you don't think his life warrants respect, then don't listen or enjoy the song.

I think a great deal of Ann, including her intelligence and judgment. I'm surprised that she resorted to a sort of "cattiness" [sorry about the word, I could not think of a better one] in this instance. If his prior personal life disqualified him from any admiration, then pass on saying anything about the song or him.

ALTHOUSE RESPONSE (it seems cold and harsh toward a sick, dying guy married for 32 years and oddly distracted by the commercial interests of his wife [?] and others]

If he were singing it only to his wife, I would never have heard it. His people have made a video and are putting it out for us to consume. As such, opinions are invited, and it is our business.

They are seeking fame and wealth on a sentimental message, and it's entirely apt that the story of Campbell's marriages be attached to their enterprise.

Anyone who is dying deserves some sympathy, and it is interesting and sobering to contemplate a person losing all memory before dying and the effect this has on his loved ones.

But Campbell is a chance repository of this sympathy, and the things he did when he had his wits about him say more about the man who is now slipping away. If you care about humanity, you should care about who he really was, and not him as simply an exemplar of a disease.

John Lynch said...

Why write anything if you don't want to influence people?

Smilin' Jack said...

So if you know how
Why don't you say 'em a prayer
They're gonna need all the help they can get
They remember too much about what went wrong
It might be they should learn to forget.

Forget themselves in each other
And leave what belongs in the past
Carry their hearts like a newborn child
Cause it's only the moment that lasts.

They're not forever, they're just for today
One part be my lover, one part go away.

Scott said...

Gentle On My Mind was written by John Hartford.

In fact, Glen Campbell's hits were all written by other people. I can't find a single song that Glen Campbell wrote. He's no Garth Brooks.

Yes, I suppose you can beat the poor guy up for singing other people's words, but if you're claiming that they somehow express his own beliefs and sentiments, you're being lame.

Anonymous said...

This is a good song. Amazing, really. And there is a John Lennon vibe. I also hear a hint of his long ago collaborator Brian Wilson:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_Yj9oHikgY