Fifty-two years ago, Glen Campbell soared to the top of the charts with his song, “Galveston.”
It’s no secret that guitarist, singer, songwriter, actor and television host Glen Campbell was a performing icon. So, it’s not a surprise that throughout his career he landed 26 top 10 songs on the Hot Country Songs chart and five number ones. One of those number one hit songs included “Galveston.”
“Galveston” is a song about a soldier remembering the woman he loves in Galveston while away at war. During the song, Campbell sings, “Galveston, oh Galveston, I still hear your sea waves crashing. While I watch the cannons flashing. I clean my gun and dream of Galveston…I am so afraid of dying before I dry the tears she’s crying. Before I watch your sea birds flying in the sun. At Galveston, at Galveston. On the beach where we used to run.”
Glen Campbell released the song in 1969 and quickly soared to the top of the Hot Country Songs chart.
What’s the Story Behind Glenn Campbell’s Song, ‘Galveston’?
Songwriter Jimmy Webb penned “Galveston” while sitting on a beach in Galveston, Texas. Hawaiian singer Don Ho actually recorded the song first. He released the song as the B-side of his single “Has Anybody Lost A Love?” in 1968. A year later, Ho appeared on Campbell’s show “The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour.” While there, Ho gave Campbell a copy of the single and said “I didn’t have any luck with this, maybe you will.”
Glen Campbell then recorded the song and released it at the same time as the Vietnam War. Many considered the song to be anti-war. However, songwriter Jimmy Webb disagreed. During an interview in 2003, Webb talked about the true meaning behind the song.
“If there was a statement, and obviously I was saying something, I prefer to say it wasn’t antiwar – that it was more about an individual getting involved in a war and realizing that he’d rather be somewhere else,” said Webb.
Glen Campbell Knew How to Turn a Song Into a Hit
Jimmy Webb also wrote Campbell’s hits “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” and “Wichita Lineman.” During another interview in 2011, Webb talked about the way Glen Campbell turned Webb’s songs into major hits.
“Glen was very, very good at commercializing my songs. He could come up with great intros and great solos, great breaks, and he wrote perfect strings, because he wrote very little. It was a minimalist approach and it just left Glen out there with the song and the guitar,” said Webb. “I tended to write a little bit more as an arranger, and probably too much. So I could have done better to have stayed out of Glen’s way, I think.”