“Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me”

Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me is a powerful, compelling, utterly gripping documentary in every way. It traces the famed pop country singer’s journey from an Alzheimer’s diagnosis to his final deterioration. As it does so, it also documents his farewell tour and the struggles Campbell and his family faced as he performed frequently for a full year and a half after his diagnosis. Campbell, born in 1936, turned 80 last month. He now lives in a memory care facility and is attended every day by his wife and children.

This is a well-made film and an honest, courageous story. After learning of his Alzheimer’s diagnosis, Campbell, with the support of his wife and children, decided to go public with the diagnosis and to allow the documentary to be made. They also decided that Campbell would go on an extended “Goodbye Tour” for as long as his illness would permit.

The documentary is chock full of private footage in the Campbells’ home, in dressing rooms, and on the tour bus. The viewer sees Campbell as a human being, laughs along with his goofy sense of humor (complete with his trademark duck quack), and cries with Campbell, his wife, and his children as Campbell forgets the most basic facts of his life, including – frequently – the fact that he’s about to play a show or has just played a show.

Amazingly, the other half of the film features concert footage from the farewell tour. There are numerous nail-biting moments as his children (who play in his band) wait to see if he’ll remember how to play and sing his best-known songs. A giant telecaster displays the lyrics, but Campbell – playing lead guitar – has to remember how to start each song and how to play it through to the end. That he is able to do so for so many months – despite the fact that he may not remember later that night that he played a show – is nothing short of remarkable.

Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me is a sad and heart-wrenching film. It is difficult to watch anyone – much less a beloved pop icon – deteriorate and fade away. But there’s something inspiring about the film as well. In the face of a certain and fierce diagnosis, Glen Campbell stands up and says he will go out doing what he has always done best, what he loves so well. Courageously, he vows to share the entire journey with his fans as a way of shattering the silence surrounding Alzheimer’s.

Fans of Campbell’s music won’t be disappointed. He performs all the great hits: “Wichita Lineman,” “Gentle on My Mind,” and “Rhinestone Cowboy.” A new song, “I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” is also featured. It is Campbell’s final studio recording. A soundtrack CD is available as well.

To learn more about Glen Campbell as well as the film, stop by Campbell’s official website, and check out the Rolling Stone article that appeared when the film was released in October 2014. To learn more about Alzheimer’s and to contribute to research on the devastating disease, visit the I’ll Be Me Alzheimer’s Fund.

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Watch:Watch the official trailer for Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me. Then watch the video for “I’m Not Gonna Miss You.”