Venture Galleries Blog for Readers and Writers

Last One Chosen

"Take that, Alzheimer's," Glen's music said.

Glen Campbell performs at the Grammy Awards
Glen Campbell performs at the Grammy Awards




Like so many many people around the world, I watched the Grammy Awards last night.  My youngest daughter wanted to see her idol, Adelle.  I wanted to see Glen Campbell.

Glen received a similar award from the CMA  a few months ago, but there was a big difference.

The Grammys let Glen strut his stuff.

After The Band Perry’s cover of Gentle on My Mind and Blake Shelton’s Southern Nights (two of Glen’s big hits), the camera caught Glen as he marched on stage, microphone in hand.

The band struck up Rhinestone Cowboy, and the miracle occurred.

Glen was back, back from Alzheimer’s.

He connected with the crowd, cut up in his inimitable style, sang all the verses in his classic delivery.

When the music died, and the lights dimmed, before the sound crew killed his mike, we heard just a few spoken words from Glen. “Where do I go? Or do I just need to quit talking?” He was still under the spell of the music, wandering slowly back to the lostness where he now spends his time.

I don’t know what a day in the life is like for Glen now, although because of my mother’s ten-year struggle with Alzheimer’s I have a pretty good idea.

But last night was about the music.  What many people do not realize is that music is one of the few things that can break the iron grip of Alzheimer’s.  Research is just now catching up to what many caregivers have seen up close and personal.  If you want to see light fill the eyes of your loved with with Alzheimer’s, you need to turn up the music.

Glen’s performance last night was an opportunity for audiences around the world to catch the vision of the freeing power of music. Note that I didn’t say the healing power of music. There are settings where music helps heal a person. Alzheimer’s is not one of those.  Rather, music can offer a person with Alzheimer’s a brief parole from his prison, a temporary respite.  When the last chord fades, the person must take the bus back to the big house.

In recent days, I have seen several reports about drugs that give great promise towards a cure for Alzheimer’s.  My heart leaps each time I hear such a report, but the truth of the matter is that a cure is still a long-time coming, and it won’t result from one medical breakthrough as did the cure for polio. Because Alzheimer’s is not a one size fits all disease, it won’t be conquered by a silver bullet pill.  One remedy will work for a particular group of persons with the disease, but not for another group.

It will take a concerted world-wide effort to beat Alzheimer’s.  I hope I live to see the day when it is relegated to the ash heap of history.

Meanwhile, I will treasure moments like last night, when for just a few  moments, for the time it took to sing a song, a person with Alzheimer’s was able to rise above the disease and strut his stuff.

Thanks so much, Glen, and may God bless you.



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  • Gilly Fraser

    This post brought tears to my eyes – beautifully written and totally from the heart. I’ve loved Glen Campbell’s music for years, and I salute the man’s bravery in even going public with his condition, let alone still appearing on stage.

    • Stephen Woodfin

      Gilly, thanks. I bet if we had a chance to spend time with Glen, we would find that the moments he spends on stage are what keep him going. That is who he is, and Alzheimer’s hasn’t yet been able to strip his essence away from him.

  • Rachelle Norman

    Wow, what a beautiful post. I love your description of the freeing power of music for people with Alzheimer’s. I’m a music therapist, and many of my clients have Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, so I get to see this kind of transformation on a regular basis. It’s humbling. Thank you so much for your post!

    • Stephen Woodfin

      Rachelle, you’re welcome. I have also witnessed it many times. Keep up the good work.

  • John Crawley

    Well said, Stephen, well said. And it was a beautiful moment. Let us all hope and pray and work toward a day when we ask, “What was Alzheimer’s?”

  • Christina Carson

    Yet another love story on this the eve of Valentine’s. Beautiful, Stephen. Many thanks.

  • FCEtier

    Is there a YouTube clip available of Glen at the Grammys?

    • Stephen Woodfin

      I just added it.

  • Anonymous

    It was, indeed, a very special and moving performance! Thank you for relating it here. My mother had Alzheimers and always lit up when I played music for her. She would close her eyes and sway to the rhythm like she was in heaven.

    • Stephen Woodfin

      The Washington Times contacted me about this piece yesterday. The paper ended up not running it, but I hope articles like this raise people’s awareness about music’s power to free persons with Alzheimer’s if only for the time it takes to sing a song. Thanks for the comment.

  • Jeanne Woodfin Kramer

    Like you, Little Brother, I watched specifically to see Glen Campbell & I wasn’t disappointed. It’s amazing to me that the Grammy’s provided him w/ such a stage to actually perform when country music really missed their opportunity to honor him. It was quite a trip to see Paul McCartney in the front of the audience singing along w/ Rhinestone Cowboy w/ his arms waving overhead! What a tribute to Glen & music that connects w/ our hearts regardless of our usual genre of preference.

  • FCEtier

    At Dollywood, there is a regular act called “Country Crossroads.” This year’s show includes a tribute to Glen Campbell and a cover of “Gentle on My Mind.” When we saw the show last weekend, it reminded me of this blog. Thanks again, Stephen.