Glen Campbell - Gentle On My Mind
Photo courtesy glencampbellshow.com.
A unique song in many ways, Gentle On My Mind has both folk and country sensibilities. It’s a folk song by virtue of the detailed descriptions of people and states of mind. But it’s a country song, especially when Campbell sings it, because of its vivid country places – back roads, wheat fields, junk yards, and clotheslines. At the time he recorded Gentle On My Mind, Campbell was at the height of his singing prowess (he should have been … he’d just spent 18 months singing with the Beach Boys), and the clarity and sureness of his voice comes across with every line. The instrumentation – a gentle wall of music with elements of both country and bluegrass – stands behind Campbell’s voice like a stage curtain. You barely notice its there, and its effect is to allow you to focus on the abundance of lyrics.
John Hartford, a folk musician, wrote Gentle On My Mind in 15 minutes (he says) after watching Doctor Zhivago. It won four Grammys in 1968, including one for Hartford for Best Folk Performance and one for Glen Campbell for Best Country and Western Solo. The song was a phenomenal crossover, reaching pop, easy listening and country charts in two separate ‘chart attacks’ – 1967 and 1968.