WE ALL KNOW THAT GLEN CAMPBELL WAS A RHINESTONE COWBOY.
We know he was a lineman for the county. Students of pop history also
know that he was a member of the famed Wrecking Crew, playing on
classic recordings for Elvis, Sinatra, the Beach Boys, the Monkees, Merle
Haggard, Willie Nelson, and too many more to name. Fewer people
are aware that Campbell actually was a Beach Boy, touring with the
group in the mid ’60s and filling the massive shoes of Brian Wilson
himself. He had his own wildly successful TV show, and he singlehandedly
put Ovation guitars on the map by playing them on that show.
And, although he didn’t always get a chance to showcase them on his
Grammy-winning hits, the guy has always possessed unreal chops.
Spin just about any live recording of Campbell’s or YouTube his Good
Time Hour variety show and you’ll be treated to blazing, head-spinning
flatpicked lines that ran circles around anyone who shared space at the
top of the charts with him.
How did this record come to be?
After ruling the pop and country worlds and racking up 45 million
in sales, you couldn’t blame the guy if he decided to hang it up and
simply golf his way into the sunset. But Campbell is back with a new
record, Meet Glen Campbell [Capitol], where he covers an eclectic batch
of tunes by the likes of Green Day, Tom Petty, and the Foo Fighters,
ably backed up by Jason Falkner, Wendy Melvoin, and Roger Manning,
among others. And, although nothing can stand between Campbell
and his daily golf game, he did take the time to discuss his current
work, his past work, and why he still likes what he calls “take-off
playin’.” He continues to get cards and letters from people he doesn’t
I was playing at one of those gambling places on the Colorado River.
Julian Raymond, who produced the record, came down and said he
wanted to do an album. I picked some of the songs—I had heard bits
of them over the years—and Julian picked some too. We had a bunch
of tunes. I could do another album of this sort of stuff because I really,
really liked it.
You’ve always done your own versions of other people’s tunes. When you
first heard the songs that ended up on this album, did you think, “I should record
that song someday”?
No, it never occurred to me. But when I started playing the Green
Day song, “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life),” I was really knocked
out by it. That was true with all of the material.
How did you divide up the guitar parts? What kind of direction did you give
to Jason Falkner and Wendy Melvoin?
I just let them play rather than telling them what to do. They’re
great musicians. Julian picked the players and they were all amazing.
I played rhythm on a lot of songs and I played a bass guitar solo. I really
like the solo I play on “Good Riddance.” I think the intro to [Foo Fighters’]
“Times Like These” is great. I didn’t play it, but it’s one of my
favorite guitar parts on the album. We had a lot of nice instruments
in there, but I don’t remember what I played on which song. I’ve been
doing this so long now that, once a project is over, that stuff pretty
much goes out of my head.
You gave the players on this record a lot of
freedom. When you were coming up in the session
ranks, did you get that kind of freedom?
They had things written out a lot of times,
but since I couldn’t read notes they would
write “Glen Solo” on the page and I would
have freedom then.
You’d be tracking live in those days. What was
the pressure like, knowing that if you made a mistake
it would ruin the take for everyone?
It really never entered my mind. Everybody
makes mistakes and there were a lot
of mistakes made on those records.
What was it like to play on Elvis records?
It was really nice. I really enjoyed it
because I was a big Elvis fan. Elvis was there
during the sessions and I got to know him
very well. He was a great guy.
What are some of your other favorite dates?
The Beach Boys Pet Sounds. I remember
Brian working so hard. He was that way with
everything—it was all perfect. You can play
that album today and it’s still perfect. That
session was me, Carol Kaye, Bill Pitman, and
Did you ever see a part in the studio that Tommy
No, never. He was such a good reader. I
remember a Jan and Dean session where
they put a chart in front of Tommy and he
started playing it. It sounded really weird
and the producer came over to look. He had
put the chart on his stand upside down and
Tommy was just playing it backwards. It
cracked us all up. I miss him. It was always
fun with him in the studio—a lot of joking
and kidding going on.
After the Pet Sounds sessions, you toured with
the Beach Boys. How did that come about?
Brian was sick or something and he
couldn’t go out. Mike Love wanted to go out
on the road and make money because I guess
he was gambling some of it away. They called
me the day before the tour. I said, “Sure, I
can make it.” Then they asked if I had a bass.
I said, “Bass? I’m a guitar player!” So I borrowed
Brian’s bass and played it and tried
to sing the high parts.
With no rehearsal?
Well, I had played on the songs so I knew
the material. I had also sung with them in
the studio on some of the cuts. Al Jardine
was my little buddy—he still is. I would tell
him on stage, “You gotta help me on these
high parts. We need to switch off.” So we
did. To this day, touring with the Beach Boys
is the hardest thing I’ve ever done musically.
You’re a mean flatpicker and back in the day
you used to really shred, especially live on tunes
like “Classical Gas.” Who did you listen to early on
for that kind of technical playing?
Django Reinhardt. Best guitar player that
ever lived. He and Stephane Grapelli gave
us some of the best playing I’ve ever heard,
and they did that in the ’30s. He was a mad
player. It inspired me. It really did make me
want to play like that.
There aren’t any tunes on your latest record
that showcase your chops. Do you still enjoy that
kind of playing?
You mean “The Hokum” as it’s called?
In country we’d say, “I’m playin’ ‘take off.’
I’m not playing rhythm anymore.” I do still
like that kind of playing. It’s fun. I can tell
that some of the licks I try to hit now have
slowed down a hair, but it still sounds good
Producer and multi-instrumentalist Julian
Raymond has worked with Freddie Mercury,
Cheap Trick, Shawn Mullins, and many others,
as well as producing several major
motion picture soundtracks. One of his latest
projects was teaming up with Howard
Willing to arrange, mix, and produce Meet
Glen Campbell. Here Raymond talks about
what it was like to work with a popular music
How would you divide up the guitar
parts between Glen, Jason Falkner, and
This is a very general synopsis of the
guitar playing, but Glen played mainly solos.
Jason played a little bit of everything, but
was the foundation. Wendy provided interesting
colors after Glen and Jason played
the meat and potatoes.
What guitars did Glen play?
Glen played my 1963 Gibson ES-335
as well as his Danelectro 6-string baritone.
How did you choose the songs and how
conscious were you of referencing Glen’s
past in the arrangements of these tunes?
Would you deliberately go for a “Wichita
Lineman” sound or anything like that?
I presented songs to Glen that I thought
he would sing well and songs that we could,
in some cases, rewrite and produce in the
style of the Glen Campbell/Jimmy Webb/Al
DeLory era. Glen picked the songs he liked.
The concept of the record was to do modern-
day versions of his ’60s classics. So
yes, referencing songs and sounds from his
career was deliberate.
What are your favorite memories from
Everything. The whole experience was
truly a blessing.
How would you characterize Glen’s contributions
to guitar music over the years?
It’s significant. He is absolutely on the
short list of the greatest players of all time.