Gentle on My Mind: In Sickness and in Health with Glen Campbell

From the publisher: “Kim Campbell was a fresh-faced twenty-two-year-old dancer at Radio City Music Hall when a friend introduced her to Glen Campbell, the chart-topping, Grammy-winning, Oscar-nominated entertainer. The two performers from small Southern towns quickly fell in love, a bond that produced a thirty-four-year marriage and three children.”

I knew about Glen Campbell before coming to this book: he was a member of The Wrecking Crew, the studio musicians of the 1960’s that seemed to work on every hit from The Monkees to Sinatra, that he had a summertime replacement show to The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in the late 1960’s, knew his hit songs and remember him from his late 1980’s appearances on the revival of the Smothers show, had a couple of CDs of his music (like this collection), heard he got busted for DUI, heard about his having Alzheimer’s and his goodbye tour, and saw the documentary.

But that was all superficial stuff. I really didn’t know much about him at all, it turns out. Campbell was from a large family who grew up dirt poor in the south. The one thing he did have was musical talent. He went through three marriages and five kids, plus a highly-publicized affair with country star Tanya Tucker by the time he met his fourth wife, Kim, in 1981. They got married, had three more kids, and had 34 years together before Glen died.  That could have been the story.

Except there was a whole lot more. Gentle on My Mind: In Sickness and in Health with Glen Campbell Alcoholism, enabling, and mental abuse describes the first part of the Campbell’s marriage, as well as a strong reliance on God. If you are not religious, you might not like the frequent references to Him and the Bible scriptures Kim shares to explain how she was feeling being married to this very successful yet broken man.

I was most interested in reading more about Glen Campbell’s Alzheimer’s, because my husband’s family has a long line of it in his family and I will most likely face it with him some day as well. I wanted to hear Kim’s story.  The struggles she had with Glen during his last decade are heart-breaking. And when she finally came to peace with the fact that she and her team couldn’t care for Glen on a day-to-day basis, to have some of Glen’s older children essentially accuse her of abuse is horrifying.

Because Kim didn’t meat Glen until he was in his 40’s, I’m curious to read another biography on Glen Campbell that concentrates on his early life and successful dominance of the country and pop charts.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with this (ARC) Advanced Readers Copy.

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