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Revisit Glen Campbell’s Poignant Covers of the Replacements, Foo Fighters, Green Day, and the Velvet Underground

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 16: Glen Campbell performs during the Alzheimer's Association Evening with Glen Campbell at The Library of Congress on May 16, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images)

Late country music legend Glen Campbell made his name largely as a master interpreter, spinning songs by Allen Toussaint and his longtime collaborator Jimmy Webb into Nashville gold. On his 2008 album Meet Glen Campbell, at age 72, he set his sights on a quite a different canon: that of punk and alternative rock. Eschewing traditional country songwriters entirely, the record instead featured surprising covers of the Foo Fighters (“Times Like These”), the Replacements (their late-career ballad “Sadly Beautiful”), the Velvet Underground (“Jesus”), U2 (“All I Want Is You”), and Green Day (“Good Riddance,” naturally).

In a 2008 SPIN interview, Campbell expressed affinity for the material, much of which had been shared with him by producer Julian Raymond. “The songs stand on their own,” he said. He had a particular enthusiasm for John Lennon’s “Grow Old With Me,” which closes the album. Here’s how we transcribed his thoughts on the song at the time: “The John Lennon song–gosh. [Sings] Dee-doo-dee-doo. Wow!”

As he is wont to do, Campbell finds the yearning heart at the center of each of these songs and makes it accessible to his listeners. In his hands, “Times Like These” loses its stadium-rock bluster to become a wistful ballad; “Jesus” is no longer stark and pained, but warm and full of life. Hear the whole thing below.