In 1969, there was no bigger star in popular music than singer-guitarist Glen Campbell. Although Johnny Cash was by then a weekly TV star like his fellow Arkansan, Campbell’s broad appeal ensured chart dominance across the genres of pop, country and easy listening, and his album output was impressive by any standard. In 1968, five Campbell albums were issued, with four of them topping the country chart and one, Wichita Lineman, also hitting Number One on the multi-genre Billboard 200.

Fifty years ago on March 17th, 1969, Capitol Records released Campbell’s thirteenth album, Galveston. Led by the Jimmy Webb-penned title cut, Galveston also doubled the number of Webb contributions on a Campbell record, with “Where’s the Playground, Susie” released as the follow-up single to the title track.

Where Webb’s 1967 smash for Campbell, “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” was a heartbreaking road trip, “Galveston” set its poignant scene on a Texas island town, yet both songs rely on the narrator’s imagination to tell their respective stories, a method that opens Webb’s compositions to myriad interpretations.

First recorded in 1968 by Hawaiian balladeer Don Ho, his dirge-like version of the song featured a different second verse which more directly addressed the narrator’s plight as a military man in a faraway battle, wondering about the 21-year-old he left behind in Texas: “Wonder if she could forget me, I’d go home if they would let me/ Put down this gun and go to Galveston.” With the Vietnam War raging, the song’s viewpoint, whether anti-war or not (and Webb preferred not to specify that) was of a man who simply dreamed of being somewhere else, fearing death as he cleans his gun with cannons flashing around him. Campbell’s more up-tempo version of the tune might have obscured the seriousness of the subject matter, but once again his pure and pristine vocal delivered the goods, with “Galveston” topping the country chart and landing in the Top Five on the pop survey. Just one year later, recordings of “Galveston” had sold six million copies, having been cut by 27 different artists, from fellow country star Faron Young to jazz great Dizzy Gillespie.