The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour -- a bizarre blend of crossover country/pop music, satirical humor and the ubiquitous psychedelia of the '60s and '70s -- was one of television's grandest and most unforgettable experiments. Mr. Campbell has been on the road with a rather uneven reprise of the program -- presented last night as part of the "Meet Us at the Meyerhoff" series.
While the performance lacked the best of the show's original peculiarities, the best of its music endures. Songs such as "Galveston" and "Wichita Lineman" (both by composer Jim Webb) are poignant miniatures of longing and recollection, set in the incongruously cheery but ultimately visionary musical arrangements so characteristic of the '70s.
As sung by Glen Campbell -- with a combination of both glib naivete and heroic verve -- they are haunting and incontrovertible monuments to their era. His performances of them last night were luminous and assured.
Just as entertaining -- but somehow not of the same "classic" quality -- were the performances by Mr. Campbell's guest artists, John Hartford and his son Jamie, Nicolette Larson and Jim Stafford.
The least satisfying components of the concert were the arrangements of these wonderful songs (performed by the Jim Deyton Band). They seemed a bit too "countrified" to capture the ambiguous ground between country and pop.
Much attention has been paid in recent years to "comeback" tours by various pop singers and bands. While the practice undeniably appeals to the need for both novelty and nostalgia, it more importantly establishes the idea of a "repertoire" for popular music -- classics that transcend their era.
The "Meet Us at the Meyerhoff" series continues Feb. 13 with the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra.