Replacements’ Paul dips toe in the water with songs on Glen Campbell’s farewell record as icon bows out with Alzheimer’s

Paul Westerberg and Glen Campbell

Thinking ahead: Paul Westerberg and Glen Campbell

Former Replacements frontman Paul Westerberg isn’t sure anyone would buy a new solo album if he made one – and that’s one of the reasons he contributed two tracks to country rock icon Glen Campbell’s final record.

Replacements bassist Tommy Stinson, currently with Guns n’Roses, recently released his second solo album One Man Mutiny. But his lifelong friend is less sure there’s a market for new product.

Westerberg tells the Village Voice: “I’m always writing and I have plenty of songs, but I think the Glen Campbell record is a bit of a test to see if people still buy records – or go for my stuff.”

His song Ghost on the Canvas gave its title to Campbell’s final album and his track Any Trouble also appears. But Westerberg recorded the former himself in 2009 and the latter ten years earlier, and he’s not sure how many people know that.

“I just don’t know if anyone has noticed,” he says. “When somebody tells you they like a song well enough to record it, it makes you think, ‘Well, I’m not finished’.”

Campbell, 75, is suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease and is already suffering memory loss. That’s why Ghost on the Canvas and the accompanying world tour is his self-confessed farewell.

Asked if he was scared when diagnosed with the illness, the 60s icon says: “No – because I love the Lord. When I look back on things, the hit records, the good fortune I’ve had, I can’t complain. Mostly there’s my kids and my lovely wife. We’ve been married 29 years. She ain’t even that old!”

The singer hasn’t done much writing during his career but felt motivated this time. He explains: “I have people I want to say goodbye to, so that made me want to contribute lyrics. Songs like A Better Place, where hopefully I’m headed.

“I sang most of them in one take, with some punch-ins. Of course, occasionally I’d learn a song one day and forget it the next. So we’d start over.”

Westerberg is delighted with the arrangement of Ghost on the Canvas, which nods heavily towards Campbell’s 1968 hit Witchita Lineman. “It makes sense,” says the songwriter. “If Chuck Berry was making a final album you’d want it to sound like classic Chuck.”

Considering the afterlife, Campbell believes he is indeed going to a batter place: “I was pretty wild there for a while, but I got straightened out,” he reflects. “I’m pretty sure I’ll make it to Heaven.

“Of course, that’s on one condition – that, between now and then, I don’t mess things up. Barring that I’ll be fine, man.”

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