TexasEscapes.comTexas Escapes Online Magazine: Travel and History
Columns: History, Humor, Topical and Opinion
Over 1800 Texas Towns & Ghost Towns
Texas Hotels
 Texas : Feature : Columns : Bill Cherry's Galveston Memories :

There’s Got to Be More to His “Galveston” Than That Glen Campbell Sings It

by Bill Cherry
If you know singer Glen Campbell’s real relationship with the island, you can’t help but wonder if there isn’t more to the story than that a songwriter named Jimmy Webb wrote these words and tune, and that Glen sang them:
 Galveston, oh Galveston. I still hear your sea winds blowin’
I still see her dark eyes glowin’
She was 21 when I left Galveston.
and the last verse
 Galveston, oh 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..
Glen Campbell was born in rural Arkansas and was one of 12 children. Somehow his dad scraped up enough money to buy him a Sears Roebuck guitar. By the time Glen was 16, he had dropped out of school and had left home for big city lights where he was sure he would be able to play gigs full-time.

That was 1953. And that was when he hitched-hiked his way to the chase lights and neon of Galveston, with the hopes of being able to sign on with one of the big bands or a famous act that was playing there at the Balinese Room, the Studio Lounge or the Pleasure Pier’s Marine Ballroom. A lot of unknown talent took that chance back then. And sometimes it worked. It did for wonderful jazz pianist, Johnny Garcia, whose music and personality Galvestonians still miss.
Pleasure Pier, Galveston, Texas
Galveston's Pleasure Pier
Postcard courtesy www.rootsweb.com/ %7Etxpstcrd/

But for most, just like Glen found, all that was available was to play for tips at Louise Bird’s Pirate Club, a second rate nightclub, or at a Postoffice or Market Street cathouse, and to save enough money to move on to the next Town of Dreams with the hope that Mother Fate, this time, would shine her light on them.

It was at Miss Jesse’s Postoffice Street cathouse where Glenn played.

By 1961, Glen Campbell had left Galveston and had zig zagged his way to Los Angeles where he found a market for his extraordinary talent as a guitar player. As a studio musician he played in the record sessions of artists like Sinatra, Elvis, the Beach Boys, Jan & Dean, Dean Martin and Nat “King” Cole. By 1968, he was hosting his own TV show, “Glen Campbell’s Goodtime Hour.” It was the following year, 1969, when “Galveston” was born and become another of his extraordinary hits.

So Galveston’s mayor, Eddie Schreiber and his wife, Sue, flew to Los Angles and were in the audience when Glen sang it on his show. Then Glen came into the audience and introduced the Schreibers, and they stood and waved to the audience and the millions watching nationwide.

What an extraordinary boost from an entertainer whose only gig in that city had been in one of its cathouses.
Awhile back, executive director Maureen Patton brought Glen Campbell to the Grand 1894 Opera House to play what she had told him is a beautiful place on “the right side of Postoffice Street.” He packed the theater Saturday and Sunday, and, as you can imagine, brought the house down when he sang “Galveston.” This time Mayor Schreiber’s son, Dr. Melvyn Schreiber, was in the audience, and Maureen introduced him from the stage, and then she told the story of Dr. Schreiber’s dad and mom’s adventure to Los Angeles 35 years before.

Nowadays, the most requested Glen Campbell song is not one of his famous hits like “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” or “Galveston.” Instead, it’s a tune written by Jerry Reed, “Today Is Mine.” My friend, himself a Galveston afficionado, well-known Houston radio personality, Scott Arthur, told me that for years that lovely ballad has been one of the most asked for songs by radio audiences. I noticed that as is with the case of “Galveston,” the words could easily be autobiographical.
 When the sun came up this morning, I took the time to watch it rise
And as its beauty struck the darkness from the sky
I thought how small and unimportant all of my troubles seem to be
And how lucky another day belongs to me.....

Like most men I’ve cursed the present to avoid the peace of mind
And raised my thoughts beyond tomorrow and visioned there more peace of mind
But as I view this day around me, I can see the fool I’ve been
For today is the only garden we can tend
Today is mine.
If you listen to the lyrics of “Galveston,” it’s hard not to know in your gut there’s a story that has not been fully revealed to us, about a 16-year old from rural Arkansas, who came to the big lights of Galveston, played in a cathouse where he saw illegitimate love for the first time, and tried to make sense of it all. Every Galveston teenage boy of that era wrestled with that. The common thread? “Maybe I can rescue her from that life.”
And then there is the final paradox of this story. Scott Arthur also had a business called “High Spirit Tours.” It took Galveston visitors on narrated trips to the island’s haunted places. Wouldn’t you know that one of those reported-to-be haunted buildings was Miss Jesse’s Postoffice Street cathouse, the place where old Glen played for tips more than 50 years ago.

Copyright 2009 -William S. Cherry
Bill Cherry's Galveston Memories
July 3, 2009 column
Copyright William S. Cherry. All rights reserved

Related Topics:
Music | People | Haunted Places |
Galveston | Texas | Online Magazine |

Bill Cherry, a Dallas Realtor and free lance writer was a longtime columnist for "The Galveston County Daily News." His book, Bill Cherry's Galveston Memories, has sold thousands, and is still available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com and other bookstores.

Galveston Hotels

Texas Hill Country | East Texas | Central Texas North | Central Texas South | West Texas | Texas Panhandle | South Texas | Texas Gulf Coast

Ghosts | People | Historic Trees | Cemeteries | Small Town Sagas | WWII | History | Black History | Rooms with a Past | Music | Animals | Books
COLUMNS : History, Humor, Topical and Opinion

Courthouses | Jails | Churches | Gas Stations | Schoolhouses | Bridges | Theaters | Monuments/Statues | Depots | Water Towers | Post Offices | Grain Elevators | Lodges | Museums | Stores | Banks | Gargoyles | Cornerstones | Pitted Dates | Drive-by Architecture | Old Neon | Murals | Signs | Ghost Signs | Then and Now
Vintage Photos


Privacy Statement | Disclaimer | Recommend Us | Contributors | Staff | Contact TE
Website Content Copyright ©1998-2008. Texas Escapes - Blueprints For Travel, LLC. All Rights Reserved
This page last modified: July 3, 2009