Music and Alzheimer’s: Glen Campbell

There are two reasons to check out this documentary on Glen Campbell. First, is his going public about his cognitive decline. The trials and tribulations of Glen and his family will have resonance for anyone who has had experience of caring for a dementia sufferer. Cases such as these provide philosophical food for thought about personal identity and sense of Self. Indeed, just as Otto’s notebook was his “extended mind“, this role was filled by Glen’s wife Kim. Not surprisingly, Glen’s deepest existential marker, i.e. that of being a musician, was what held his mind together while all else was fraying. And like Glen, my mother always retained a sense of humour despite her decline. The second point that this film brings out, is to remind people of the understated musical genius of the man. Glen has never sung a bum note, his choice of material impeccable, a mean guitarist and for many, might just have been what drew us into country music — without us ever realizing it. Glen Campbell classics have always loitered in an unfussy transcendental way much like the work of Burt Bacharach, Herb Alpert, The Carpenters and Lou Rawls.