In what will likely become the swansong to Glen Campbell's prolific 50-plus year career, "I'll Be Me" documents both the life and failing health of a man long considered an American icon. While Campbell's battle with Alzheimer's disease is well known, it's still difficult to witness the awful effects of a horrible disease that's effectively robbed him of his musical abilities, cognizance and ability to live life the way anyone of us would wish. Thankfully then, the film proves a stoic send-off, likely the final glimpse of the man and musician when he was still in control of his creative faculties.
The Academy Award nominated title track is the most revealing song on this somewhat sparse soundtrack (the set includes a mere 10 selections, including 2 songs repeated for the sake of sharing the "single versions"). "I'm still here, but yet I'm gone," Campbell sings. "I don't play guitar or sing my song... It never defines who I am..." It's a remarkable and telling testimonial, perhaps his last grasp of realization as this cruel disease takes its final toll. The searing "All I Need Is You" and "The Long Walk Home" are less harrowing, but no less haunting, as Campbell seems to find solace in a life well led and the family and friends quick to give him comfort.
Two songs performed live at the Ryman Auditorium - "A Better Place" and "Wichita Lineman" - are also engendered with emotion, and when, on the former, he declares, "Some days I'm so confused, I need one who love me more and more each day," it's a bittersweet moment that doesn't shy away from reality.
Campbell's daughter, Ashley, contributes some special songs of her own in "Remembering" and "Home Again," both of which allude to her father's final fade, while The Band Perry offers a subdued version of "Gentle On My Mind," which, astute observers will note, ties in to the theme of impending twilight as well. This then is a tender and touching film, which resonates more because it has the music to match.