The Rhinestone Cowboy


Back in the mid 80’s, we had a radio/tapeplayer in our kitchen. Nothing unusual, you may think, but it was a car stereo. dad wired up the electrics to run off the mains, and build a wooden frame to hold it under one of the kitchen cupboards. The joy of doing the dishes was the ability to choose which tape went into the tape player.

I didn’t have any music, why would I ( i was 7-10, i didn’t have a tape player). i lived off my mothers radio scotland tuning on the radio, snippets of chart music of top of the pops, or that itv show with Kid Jenson. (I can still remember his ackward intro to the proclaimers singing letter from america.) Kid was a weird nickname for somein clearly in his mid 50’s? I was never cool enough for the tube on channel 4.

The thing i remmber most clearly was the kitchen drawer full of tapes. In the mid eighties it was full of the less flakey end of jesus music, and the beginnings of what would become Contemporary Christian Music. You name them from the early eighties chrisitan scene and they were probably there, in the drawer. It seemed to be all my mums stuff. Dad had vinyl. a collection of classic Cliff, John Denver, Beach Boys and the 16 singing men not to be mistaken with the 16 men of tain.

In the drawer one tape stood out. It obviously wasn’t christian due to the guy on the front. obviously he wasn’t in church on a sunday, of course not, he was wearing white leather chaps. I had been in a lot of church and never seen anyone in white leather chaps in church. (I still haven’t)

Glen Campbell singing Rhinestone Cowboy.

What . a . song . Unlike the early christian music is sounded good on cassette. It was well produced, when the string kicked in it was lush an wild and exctiing in a way orchestration had never sounded before. but the stand out song had everything, big piano, sweeping strings, and a voice from God himself.

I never thought much about that song until January 2013, BBC4 had a documentry about glen campbell. Suddenly the story become one I was aware of and interested in. I bought a few albums that night and have been listening to them. (best of, live at festival hall, and his two covers albums Ghosts on the canvas and Meet Glen Campbell) He does have a fantastic pure smooth middle of the road voice.

Tonight on random, rhinestone Cowboy came on my generic mp3 player. I had a flashback to the drawer and that tape.
I wonder why that stuck with me. I wonder why the christian music just disappeared. the only christian stuff I rememeber from back then was a Larry Norman tape. (I have also revisited his early stuff and found it awesome, but thats for a different time.) In all the music I own, I wonder, what I will leave my children behind. I wonder if it will be the music i want to give them, or something unintentional?
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The documentry isn’t on the iplayer any more but this clip gives you an idea of what it was like.