I am honored to be able to review “I’ll Be Me”, a movie portraying the life of one of America’s greatest performers, Glen Campbell, and how the power of music helped him and his family keep his identity during a battle with Alzheimer’s disease. The movie opens this fall in theaters. You can see a preview here.
Glen Campbell won “Entertainer of the Year” award in 1968 (just one of his many achievements), the year I was born. I remember hearing his music growing up. I even remember my parents having vinyl records of him that we would listen to. My dad played the guitar and since Glen Campbell is undisputedly one of the best guitarists ever, it was only natural that he would be part of my life. There were so many songs of his embedded in my memory that as I watched the movie, the words came flooding back although it has been years since I’ve heard some of them. The impact that he has made on so many lives is evident throughout this movie.
In 2011, Glen Campbell and wife Kim receive the confirmed diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. The news is received during the same time that “Ghost on Canvas” is being released and as a family, they decide to go public with the diagnosis and a final Goodbye Tour. “I’ll Be Me” takes you behind the scenes of that emotionally charged 151 concert tour.
As the tour starts, you get to see how love and music tightly binds this family. Kim is an unsung hero as she is constantly by her husband’s side, helping him in anyway that is needed. Their children, sons Cal and Shannon and daughter Ashley, all play in the band on the tour. They have amazing patience as they help this tour to be successful and the memories that are made I know they will cherish for the rest of their lives.
There are concerns as the tour begins (and rightly so) that perhaps Campbell would not be able to perform and the tour would be a disaster. And of course there are a few hiccups – like the concert where he played the same song twice. But to be able to see this songwriter, singer, musician who is deeply woven in the tapestry of American music perform, who cares if you hear the same song twice??!! I would consider it a double blessing. Occasionally he would forget a key. But he never forgot the melody. The audience was able to witness this great man singing, smiling and laughing, not hidden away somewhere suffering with this disease in silence. Even in Nashville, when there were some technical difficulties with the teleprompter, Campbell rolled with the punches.
Music helped Campbell hold onto his life. While Alzheimer’s affects cognitive skills. Since music was so deeply embedded in his brain, Campbell was still able to remember those things. When he performed, he was more like his true self. I think, and the doctor also mentioned, that being able to perform and doing what he loved, seemed to slow down the advancement of the disease.
In 2012, Glen Campbell won a Lifetime Achievement Award. He sang on stage with Blake Shelton and The Band Perry at the Grammys. It was a truly moving performance as you could see the admiration of current county music superstars show appreciation of this great man. Glen Campbell affected so many lives as the movie is peppered with interview clips of so many talents from different musical genres, all proclaiming the impact Campbell had on their lives and showing admiration. Towards the end of the movie, many of these also share how they have personally been affected by Alzheimer’s as it touches their own lives by loved ones fighting the disease.
One of the most important performances was that for the Library of Congress as the family helps to bring awareness of the effects of this disease on families and the urgency to find a cure.
Eventually, it becomes harder and harder on the family when Campbell is not performing. He would get fixated on things, forgetful and belligerent. By the last show in Napa, it is apparent that the tour is, and should be, coming to a close. The great Glen Campbell struggles at the beginning of the show until eventually music does it’s medicinal magic and he slips back into being the great performer. Regardless, as shown throughout the entire tour, the fans embrace him, knowing they are witnessing history as this legend performs on his last tour.
Two months after the tour ends, Glen Campbell recorded his last record, “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” with the legendary Wrecking Crew.
Whether you are a fan of country music or not does not matter. I promise you will not walk away from this movie untouched. The rally of love and support from fans, family and friends is touching but most importantly, you can see how even though a disease like Alzheimer’s will try to destroy a person, the essence of who they are will always remain. Throughout the movie, you see Glen Campbell as a man who loves music and loves his family. His memory may fade but that love never does.
I would like to be able to share a part of this great legend with you. I am hosting a giveaway for a 5 song EP soundtrack from the film for you. This is open for USA and Canada.
“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”