Don't hold me to this, but I reckon there's only one 73-year-old who could woo me straight into his hotel room, and that man played a surprisingly killer show at Grand Casino Mille Lacs Friday night. I mean, killer for a 73-year-old. A 73-year-old with well over 50 years of hard living under his belt.
But by golly, one smile from Glen Campbell and I knew immediately what five decades of fuss have been about. He's a great singer. A great guitar player. But what is it about Glen Campbell, aged 73, that at a casino on a Friday night made me swoon?
Well, Glen Campbell just don't give a shit.
Now, I don't mean he don't give a shit in the way many musicians phone in their performances to bored audiences at casino shows. Oh, Campbell most certainly seemed to give a shit about his audience, frequently flashing his sparkling smile and shaking hands with lady fans aged six to sixty whenever they approached the stage. But the second he strutted onstage in what appeared to be a designer military-issue black western jeans and button-up shirt, it was clear he just don't give a shit.
He's Glen Campbell. He can wear black designer jeans. He can play only the occasional half-assed guitar lick but then carry a song, be it "Gentle on My Mind," "Galveston," "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," or "Southern Nights," on the merits of his still impressive voice alone. He can bring the whole fam damily (in this case, daughter Debby on vocals, Ashley on vocals/banjo/keys, and son Cal on drums) along with him, turning this casino show into some sort of Campbell family revue. He can chuckle while he and his daughter attempt to pick their way through "Dueling Banjos" then turn around and adeptly kick the ass out of "Classical Gas."
Glen Campbell can mention that he's gonna treat us to "Wichita Lineman" only because it happens to have been the most-played song of the millennium. He can flash a smile at the front row, bark mid-lyric at the sound guy to "TURN DOWN THE BASS!" then go back again to flashing a smile at the front row. He can turn a Foo Fighters cover (from his 2008 album Meet Glen Campbell) into a mellow, wooshy-sounding AM radio gem that'll make you forget how much the Foo Fighters pretty much sucked after their first two albums. He can make the same joke - "Where are we again? Mille Lacs? Maalox? Isn't that a laxative?" - no fewer than half a dozen times. He can end his set with a triumphant performance of "Rhinestone Cowboy" then return to the stage for the audience-requested encore with an attitude of "Jesus H. what the hell do y'all want now?"
And did he totally diss Conway Twitty by describing "It's Only Make Believe" as an Elvis song? Why, I do believe he did.
Is it all this about Glen Campbell that makes us swoon?
Probably. Well, that and knowing he acted alongside John Wayne in True Grit. Perhaps the only man living or dead who gives less of a shit than Glen Campbell.