There are two milestones in the career of a songwriter that stand out from the rest: the first album and the last. Everything from birth on builds into that debut opus — how you have lived, how you breathe, how you have figured out your unique place in the universe thus far. But, at the end, things look different. Maybe you’re wiser, but you’re worn, too. If you’re lucky enough to make it to the point where you can declare decidedly, before letting the inevitable have its way, that a collection of songs will be your final message, it’s a moment to not only make your last mark but, also, to simply say “goodbye.” It’s what Glen Campbell, the Rhinestone Cowboy, is doing on his last LP, Adiós.
“I’ll miss the blood red sunset, but I’ll miss you the most,” sings country legend Campbell on the title track, as he succumbs to the debilitating effects of a battle with Alzheimer’s disease. His voice sounds aged but still holds gorgeous, quivering notes; and, somehow, it’s a goodbye that doesn’t wallow in the morose. Maybe Campbell knows just how special it is to have these final moments, these final albums, to look back and say goodbye. But here’s the thing: Music is never really a goodbye. Though it’s his last LP, it could very well be someone’s first — the first notes of a Campbell record they ever hear, or the first album they buy. “Adiós” could even be the song that someone listens to as they bid farewell to a first love, a first school, a first kiss, before the rest of their life unfolds. It might be Campbell’s “Adiós,” but perhaps the eternal nature of music makes bidding goodbye its own special breed of even sweeter sorrow.