8 Songs That Describe the Pain of Alzheimer’s Disease
Glen Campbell‘s final years shined a light on the pain and sorrow caused by Alzheimer’s disease, but it’s important to recognize others that came before him. Here are eight songs about Alzheimer’s, from Carrie Underwood, Kenny Chesney, Brett Eldredge and more.
Alzheimer’s and dementia are more popular topics in country music than you might have realized. Kathy Mattea was among the first to turn a gripping story of a life lived with memory loss into a hit song, but her contemporaries followed with their own oft-personal tributes. For Eldredge, it was his grandmother. Eric Church performed a song about his grandfather that another country hitmaker would later cut (“I Know Who He Is” is officially credited to writer Casey Beathard).
Of course Campbell’s “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” makes our playlist of Alzheimer songs. It was one of the legend’s final recordings and included a documentary video that showed how families are truly devastated by this still enigmatic disease.
Glen Campbell died after a six year battle with Alzheimer’s on August 8, 2017. He was 81 years old and leaves behind a wife, eight children, a timeless catalog of country music and further awareness of dementia. If we were to add a movie to this list, it’d surely be I’ll Be Me, his documentary.
Eldredge’s debut single was inspired by his own grandmother’s battle with Alzheimer’s. The song tells the story of a woman who believes a worker at her care facility is her son Raymond, a man killed in Vietnam many years earlier.
“I’m Not Gonna Miss You”
This is perhaps Glen Campbell’s most vulnerable song, but as the title suggests, he soon forgot it. The singer is “not gonna miss you” because he’ll soon forget all about you. It’s a chilling final moment from a legend.
“I Know Who He Is”
Eric Church first performed this song, explaining during 2015 Country Radio Seminar that it was inspired by his grandfather’s battle with Alzheimer’s. “The hardest thing was to have a relationship when that person doesn’t remember you,” Church said. Casey Beathard is the lone writer on the track.
Glen Campbell’s youngest daughter, Ashley Campbell, released this bittersweet tune in October 2015. “Daddy don’t you worry, I’ll do the remembering,” she sings after speaking her father’s praises.
“Where’ve You Been”
Kathy Mattea didn’t believe anyone would want to hear a song this sad, so when “Where’ve You Been” became a Top 10 country hit, she was delighted. It’s the story of a couple through three verses, with the final stanza revealing Claire has Alzheimer’s.
“While He Still Knows Who I Am”
Kenny Chesney never said if was inspired to record “While He Still Knows Who I Am” for a personal reason, only that he held onto to it for several years before starting his Welcome to the Fish Bowl album with it.
It’s the song Underwood has said is too emotional for her to perform. While not about her grandparents, it evokes their memory. Like many Alzheimer songs “Forever Changed” is a story song that reveals the secret in the final verse.
“She Misses Him”
Tim Rushlow’s song about the late stages of dementia is a tender reminder of the disease’s effect on friends and family. It’s brutally honest in the sweetest way possible. Perhaps more than any other song on this list of Alzheimer’s songs, families will relate to “She Misses Him” most.