“I’m still here but yet I’m gone.” That heartbreaking line pretty well sums up the last couple years for country legend Glen Campbell. It’s also the central theme for the song “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from the documentary “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me.” Both the movie and song document the singer’s struggles as Alzheimer’s disease has robbed him of the memories that we see flashing across the video and movie screen – memories of family, friends and a 60-year career that in many cases he now has to watch on film to recall.
The song is less about longing for what might have been than it is a lamentation on what his illness and progressing memory loss will mean for his wife, Kim, and his children. Over swelling instruments and then melancholy piano, the lines “You’re the last person I will love, You’re the last face I will recall” progress to the devastating, “I’m never gonna know what you go through, All the things I say or do, All the hurt and all the pain, One thing selfishly remains … I’m not gonna miss you.” Written by Campbell and Julian Raymond, Campbell’s friend and record producer, “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” was nominated last week for an Academy Award for Best Original Song. The song closes the movie, and the video ends, appropriately, as Campbell walks offstage while Kim looks on.
The music video (embedded below) and movie contain many scenes from Mayo Clinic, as the Campbells consult with Ronald Petersen, M.D., Ph.D., director of Mayo’s Alzheimer's Disease Research Center. “I think the fact that Glen Campbell and his family decided to come forward with his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is actually very important for the field,” Dr. Petersen says. “I think that’s incredibly powerful for making people aware of what the disease is and at the same time showing that you can live with it.” Dr. Petersen says he enjoyed his interactions with Campbell as he worked with the singer throughout the making of the documentary. “I found him to be absolutely delightful,” he says.
Dr. Petersen also sounds an optimistic note, saying, “We’re hopeful that as the field moves forward, we will be able to develop therapies, drugs, immunization therapies that may, in fact, have an impact on this underlying disease process.” That, of course, will require adequate research funding, he notes. And Campbell’s story may help with that, by raising awareness about Alzheimer’s and putting a very personal imprint on it. Like a Glen Campbell song.
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