GALVESTON by GLEN CAMPBELL Story by David Oke

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GALVESTON by GLEN CAMPBELL Story by David Oke

David Oke
Geelong 1970

I grew up in a household where there really weren’t restrictions on the time spent in front of the television. The old black and white Pye was often on for hours at a time – before school, after school and into the evening. There is probably a generation of us who had that same freedom and common small screen influence.

Afternoon television included such classics as Mr Ed, Get Smart and McHale’s Navy as well as the Looney Tune cartoons – my favorite being the Three Little Bops – a cool jazz cartoon version of the Three Little Pigs.

From 7am, Monday to Friday was a program called The Super Flying Fun Show hosted by Miss Marilyn. It is my first memory of catchy pop songs on television. I assume that music film clips were not common in 1970, but I have clear memories of that show regularly playing songs that would stay with me as I rushed out the door, with my blue TAA jet school bag, loaded with a Vegemite sandwich and home reading book, to get to Chilwell Primary School on time.

Three songs I remember seeing a number of times on the Super Flying Fun Show were La La by Australian band, Flying Circus, Goodbye by U.K. singer Mary Hopkin and Galveston by Glen Campbell.

La La was pure bubblegum pop and Goodbye was a Paul McCartney song, sung angelically by Mary Hopkin, who was also on the Beatles’ Apple record label.

As a ten year old I was quite oblivious to the meaning of Galveston – a cry out from an American soldier in Vietnam who is recalling happy memories back home while on the battlefront. Galveston was the port from which the soldiers departed.

Galveston, oh Galveston.
I still hear your sea winds crashing
While I watch the cannons flashing
I clean my gun – and dream of Galveston.

More recently I have come to appreciate the enormous talent of the late Glen Campbell. He released more than 70 albums and sold more than 45 million records. In his early years Glen was a session musician in Los Angeles with the Monkees, Sinatra and Elvis, amongst others. He was part of the Beach Boys touring band and filled in for Brian Wilson on bass.   In the 2014 documentary I’ll Be Me, Glen clearly is having issues with Alzheimer’s disease. His memory is deteriorating but his guitar playing prowess is unmistakably unaffected by his condition.

Galveston, oh Galveston
I am so afraid of dying
Before I dry the tears she’s crying
Before I watch your seabirds flying in her sun
At Galveston, at Galveston

On the surface, the song Galveston brings back a memory of my childhood and the days of black and white television. Carefree times at home with the family. It is a song full of descriptive imagery that I could relate to – the beach, seagulls and the sea breeze.

Now, as an adult, I know that Galveston is a beautiful anti-Vietnam war song, written by Jimmy Webb. Played by Glen Campbell on his trademark Ovation acoustic guitar, it is respectful of the soldiers and clearly describes them wishing to be somewhere else with the one they love.

David is a Melbourne musician, music teacher and primary school teacher. His debut Stereo Story was about playing Great Balls of Fire at Sun Studio in Memphis. He has assisted in the organisation, and leading of gospel music workshops and Sunday gospel celebrations at the Anglesea Music Festivals, and is a member of The Seddon Jammers. His son Dan is the creative force of the band Jarrow.

By | 2018-01-23T10:07:23+00:00 February 8th, 2018|Country, Pop|0 Comments

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