Sometimes you mourn the wrong person. Watching The Glen Campbell Good Time Hour Country Special seemed a fine way to remember what made Campbell such a musical force in the 1970s. He had charm, a sweet voice and knew his way around guitar strings to be the complete package. Now we await the sad news of Campbell’s life as his health deteriorates. So I sat back and felt his impending passage while celebrating what he brought to music. During the special, he sneaks in on second half of Merle Haggard’s “Carolyn.” Little did I know that the next day it would be Merle’s obituary on the wire. In a fitting way, this special from Glen Campbell’s variety show brings together the important ties for both singers.
Campbell hosted the show starting in 1969 for four seasons after he proved popular with a summer series on CBS. After nearly a decade as a struggling performer and a successful studio musician (a Wrecking Crew member who’d join the Beach Boys), Campbell hit the goldmine with “Gentle on My Mind” and “By the Time I Get to Phoenix.” He even made True Grit with John Wayne. The dreamer for Arkansas was finally a star and hosting a TV series was the natural next step during the period of time. The series even survived the rural purge at CBS that released Hee Haw into the world of syndication. Of the 91 episodes he made, it’s easy to believe “Country Special” was the one that made him proud. He was able to bring together quite a few of his favorite performers to share the stage. Things start out right when he gets to join up with Johnny Cash on “Folsom County Blues.” Cash had also been able to turn his singing career into a hosting gig on a variety show and acting. Cash being on the show also makes it special for Merle Haggard. Turns out that when Cash first played San Quentin in 1958, Haggard was an inmate. Cash’s concert changed his life around. There’s a bit where Merle impersonates his favorite singers which includes a spot on Buck Owens which ends up with his Bakersfield sound neighbor joining in. More powerful is when he breaks into Johnny Cash and gets Cash to duet on “Jackson.” While neither man breaks out the biography, the moment testifies to the power of music.
The show has plenty of other country music guests including Mel Tillis, Minnie Pearl, Larry McNeely, June Carter, Fredy Hart and Jerry Reed. Glen is in his natural element with his guests. There’s a look in his eyes that he wants this to turn into a three hour special. He’s in his natural element with musical pals. As a viewer, another two hours would be great. There’s a bit of a come down at the end when the announcer hypes that next week’s episode features guest stars Buddy Hackett and John Byner. This was an hour show that made good use of every minute to make sure that Glenn Campbell shared a goodtime with everyone that tuned in that night. The show is a joyful reminder of what we lost when Merle Haggard passed away and what will be gone when Glen Campbell departs.
The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The show was videotaped so it lacks resolution, but you’ll catch Haggard’s face during the impersonations. The audio is Dolby Digital Mono. The mix is great for a ’70s tv show. The musical performances sound fine.
No bonus features.
Shout! Factory presents The Glen Campbell Good Time Hour Country Special. Starring: Glen Campbell, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash and Minnie Pearl. Running Time: 52 minutes. Released: April 29, 2016.
Tags: Glen Campbell, Merle Haggard