Song Review: Glen Campbell, “Everybody’s Talkin'”

Since I reviewed Maren Morris’s “I Could Use A Love Song,” I’ve given out just one review score outside the 4-6 range…and that was to Rick Astley. I’m getting tired of listening to mediocre music, and could really use a song that actually moves me for a change. Thankfully, the original “Rhinestone Cowboy” has got me covered.

At nearly 81 years old and suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, Glen Campbell has literally forgotten more about country music than most of us will ever know. While he’s now several decades removed from his commercial peak, he’s continued to pump out songs and records at a decent pace, and even won a Grammy in 2015 for his last single “I’m Not Gonna Miss You.” While “Everybody’s Talkin'” is not an official single from his upcoming album Adiós, it’s been released as a sort of promotional single, and given some of the stuff I’ve been listening to lately, a promotional single is close enough for me to check it out.

Production-wise, this is a surprisingly-upbeat and uptempo song, featuring the most banjo-picking you’ll hear outside of bluegrass. Everything else here—the real drums, the steel guitar, the piano, and whatever else is hiding in the background—takes a backseat to the bright and steady banjo roll, which gives the song a lot of energy without becoming repetitive or boring. I get a strong “Gentle On My Mind” vibe from this song, and if Campbell’s team did release this song to country radio, and would certainly stand out from (and tower over) its competition.

Vocally, Campbell not only sounds better than any 80-year-old has a right to, but I would argue his voice still compares favorably to the current radio titans of the genre. His range is beyond impressive (he even jumps into his falsetto at the end without breaking stride), his delivery is on point, and his charisma lets the listener feel the positivity and optimism on every note. While there are some odd-sounding moments in the track (Campbell’s mimics Harry Nilsson’s 1968 performance of the song almost note-for-note, and the “wah-oh-wah” interlude after the first verse feels a bit out of place), Campbell absolutely owns this role, and if time has taken a few miles per hour off of Campbell’s fastball, you’d wouldn’t know it by this track.

“Everybody’s Talkin'” is solid from a lyrical perspective, but what really elevates the song is how perfectly it dovetails with Campbell’s current condition. When Fred Neil originally wrote the song in 1966, the narrator was intended as a bitter, overwhelmed soul who wished to retreat from society and spend their days on the beach in isolation. With Campbell, however, the retreat is being forced upon him by his disease, and he chooses to face the end with optimism rather than bitterness, confident in knowing that his legacy “won’t let you leave my love behind.” Much like with Trace Adkins’s “Watered Down,” Campbell’s history is the perfect marriage between singer and song, and he makes a song written over fifty years ago feel autobiographical, as if it was written just for him.

Overall, “Everybody’s Talkin'” is an excellent song that is good enough to go toe-to-toe with anything on country radio today. Campbell may not be remembered in the same breath as Willie, Waylon, Merle, and Johnny Cash, but this track is an emphatic statement that he deserves to be.

This is a song that everybody should be talking about.

Rating: 9/10. You should check this out, but more importantly, Big Machine Records should release this as a proper single.

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