Late last year, country music legend Glen Campbell released the final single of his career, I’m Not Gonna Miss You, a song he recorded in early 2013 that reflected upon his mounting struggle with Alzheimer’s. Now, one year later, his daughter Ashley Campbell is stepping into the country spotlight with her own heart-wrenching perspective about her father’s illness in a song called Remembering.
An accomplished banjo player, Ashley picked up the twangy stringed instrument in her last year of college and began touring with her father’s band in 2009, shortly afterwards. She got to play alongside her ailing father throughout his lengthy farewell tour, which ran through 2012, and in 2013 she made the difficult decision to move to Nashville to pursue her own career in country music.
“My parents were still living in Malibu, and I felt really bad that I was a couple states away from my dad and from my mom, going through this and taking care of him,” she admits. “I just needed to write something to feel closer to them.”
What resulted was the wistful song Remembering, which Ashley penned with her friend and fellow songwriter, Kai Welch. The verses of the track, which sounds gentle and swooning with acoustic country instrumentation, present a pastiche of happy childhood memories about running upstairs and learning guitar, but the magic of Remembering is that it unfolds into a declaration of abiding love for her father in the chorus. “We can talk until you can’t even remember my name,” she sings sweetly. “Daddy, don’t you worry / I’ll do the remembering.”
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Shooting the video, which the Guardian debuts today, proved an emotional experience for Ashley. Shot in the historic Riverwood Mansion in East Nashville, the video features home movies of Glen, Ashley and the rest of their family – including Ashley’s brother, Shannon, who can be seen playing mandolin in her performance scenes. (The family movies were already on hand since they’d been used in the production of the 2014 documentary Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me, and Ashley says her family remains very close with the directors of the film: “They’re like family.”) It also shows Ashley looking through her family’s old photo albums. “I got really teary-eyed,” she says, “anytime I saw a picture of my dad holding me when I was little.”
That affection for her father carries through in the reverent way Ashley speaks about him, and she says she has no desire to hide her status as the daughter of Glen, even as she’s trying to make her own mark in Nashville. “I don’t want anyone to think that I’m using my dad’s name as a crutch,” she explains. “It’s a part of my identity and who I am. It’s where I came from, and I’m proud of it. And If I didn’t think that I could back it up with my own talent, then I wouldn’t be [making music]. I’m honoring him by embracing being his daughter.”
Confidence and candor, it seems, don’t skip a generation.