The Wichita lineman is still on the line ... but not for long.
Country-pop superstar Glen Campbell, now 75, recently was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease; and so, the man who gave us "Gentle on My Mind," "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," "Galveston" and "Rhinestone Cowboy" has embarked on his final tour - while also releasing what he insists will be his last studio album.
And what a way to go.
"Ghost on the Canvas" is a masterpiece, blending a strong contemporary vibe with the sound and feel of many moving moments from Campbell's long, prolific career.
"It's the 'now' Glen, with all the ghosts of the old Glens still kind of hanging around," writes Campbell in the CD's accompanying booklet.
Several tracks feature the sort of lush, soaring strings found on Campbell's early hits "Country Boy" and "Dreams of the Everyday Housewife"; meanwhile, the title tune and "A Thousand Lifetimes" boast guitar riffs right out of "Wichita Lineman."
And the lovely "Any Trouble" floats on an arrangement that echoes vintage Harry Nilsson.
At the same time, Campbell has enlisted current musicians Brian Setzer, Chris Isaak and Billy Corgan (of Smashing Pumpkins).
Two tunes were written by the Replacements' Paul Westerberg and one by ex-Wallflower Jakob Dylan. And the collection is filled out with six tender instrumental interludes composed by Campbell's keyboard player, Roger Joseph Manning Jr.
Yet some of the strongest tunes here were written by Campbell and his producer, Julian Raymond - including the modern-sounding "Strong," which speaks movingly to Campbell's wife, Kim, regarding their future in light of his illness.
(The Campbells' daughter, Shannon, also handles some backing vocals on the album.)
The record concludes with a lengthy and sinuous guitar solo - a fitting farewell from the once-highly sought session-man whose early career included backup work for Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, the Beach Boys, the Righteous Brothers and Elvis Presley.
On guitar, Campbell is solid, though not as dexterous as he once was (check out some of his early work on YouTube); but his voice is still earnest, soulful, supple and affecting.
The whole album reminds me of another late-career gem - Bruce Springsteen's "Magic" (2007).
It's tough to pin down the resemblance precisely; they both have a slightly spooky, melancholy sound - an October sound, a sound of wind rushing gently through dry leaves in a forest at dusk.
This is one "Ghost" you won't mind being haunted by.