Goodbye Glen

Glen’s music has been prominent within my life since I was a child. My mother has been a lifelong fan (and a UK groupie in the 1970’s) and it wasn’t uncommon for our weekend activities to be accompanied by his albums blasting through our speakers at home. As children, my sisters and I hated it, considering it to be old and boring in comparison to the latest Stock, Aitkin and Waterman artists that were dominating the charts in the late 1980’s. At the time I had no idea of his endless musical accomplishments and success – a member of The Wrecking Crew, 70 albums, 45 million records sold and endless amounts of awards – he was responsible for some of the greatest songs ever made…

However, with age came nostalgia and as a young adult I found myself listening to the same songs that I had so detested in my youth – his music gave me a connection to my home and family when I was living a hundred miles away. I particularly loved ‘Witchita Lineman,’ and would often perform ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’ during my karaoke adventures. During my visits home, his music would still be there, my mother often playing his albums, including his new releases. It was warm and comforting.

That connection was strengthened when Glen made the announcement of his Alzheimer’s diagnosis. My grandfather passed away from dementia when I was 16, and I could only feel empathy for Glen’s family because I knew what they were going to go through in the coming years.

I took my mother to see Glen’s final tour in the UK in 2011, where it was evident that his illness had started to take hold – he frequently forgot the order of the songs and needed prompts to remind him of the lyrics, but it was a sensational concert and he still clearly had retained his unbelievable musical talent – his incredible tone of voice and his fabulous guitar skills were still very much there… It was very emotional – we knew he was ill and this would be the last time that we would see him perform live, so it was our way of saying thank you and goodbye to him.

A few years later, when I heard Glen’s song ‘I’m Not Gonna Miss You,’ after it had been nominated for an Oscar, I burst into tears.

I’m still here, but yet I’m gone
I don’t play guitar or sing my songs
They never defined who I am
The man that loves you ’til the end

You’re the last person I will love
You’re the last face I will recall
And best of all, I’m not gonna miss you
I’m not gonna miss you
I’m not gonna miss you

I’m never gonna hold you like I did
Or say I love you to the kids
You’re never gonna see it in my eyes
It’s not gonna hurt me when you cry

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
I’m not gonna miss you

My grandfather was one of the greatest men I have ever known. A northerner to the core, he was kind, hard-working and generous. I looked forward to his weekend visits, where he would present us with a small paper bag of chocolate bars, made us laugh with his silly jokes and my sisters and I would cuddle up with him on the couch while we watched the snooker and Formula 1 racing. We adored him.

By the time I was in my teens he had been living on his own for a long time – my grandmother had passed away a number of years before. However, we noticed that he had started to forget little things and this progressed when he started to make regular and aggressive phone calls that was completely out of character. A brain scan revealed that he was suffering from the early onset of dementia.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s are incredibly cruel diseases. I witnessed my grandfather deteriorate from a witty, intelligent, strong and healthy human being into an almost empty shell that weighed almost nothing and he became locked in his own mind, unable to function by himself. He lost all memory of who my sisters and I were and barely remembered my mother. I can’t imagine how difficult that must have been for my mother to see him go through it.

As I sat and watched Glen’s ‘I’ll Be Me’ documentary, there were so many similar characteristics that Glen showed that reminded me so much of my grandfather, and upon hearing of his death I a, conflicted with genuine feelings of sadness and relief that he is now finally at peace.

My grandfather may not have missed me, but I’ll miss him very much and always will, and I know that Glen’s family, friends and us fans will miss him…

Goodbye Glen, thank you for the memories and the beautiful music. Safe journey.