The Houston Astros are the saints of their hometown today after winning the 2017 World Series in a hard-fought, seven game contest against the Los Angeles Dodgers. But the people of Houston are real heroes, too, having gone through Hurricane Harvey just a few weeks ago. Perhaps the spirit of the Astros and their fans reflects the tenacity of that fabled Texas city.
It is hard not to draw a comparison to the New Orleans Saints’ 2010 Super Bowl victory over the Indianapolis Colts. Quarterback Drew Brees led his team to its first championship, just as the Astros won their first World Series this year. New Orleans, still in recovery after flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, got an emotional shot in the arm by the Saints win. Houston will certainly be infused by the Astros’ World Champion status.
I called Houston as “fabled” because of the many references to it in popular song. Huddie Ledbetter, better known as Leadbelly, admonished everyone to “walk right” if they ever went to Houston in his song The Midnight Special. Artists ranging from Credence Clearwater Revival and Paul McCartney to Andy Griffith have performed it over the decades since its introduction.
Other songs spotlighting the city include Dean Martin’s Houston, one of his biggest hits. The title song of Glen
Campbell’s album Houston, I’m Comin’ to See You, is not one of his best known songs but it is one of my favorites.
One of most exciting references to Houston in a record occurs in Tighten Up with the declaration, “Hi, everybody! I’m Archie Bell and The Drells of Houston, Texas…” Then, there was Larry Gatlin’s, Houston (Means that I’m One Day Closer to You). More recently, Rodney Crowell, “The Houston Kid,” released East Houston Blues.
And had Gladys Knight not chosen to change the destination and mode of transportation, Mississippi songwriter Jim Weatherly’s original Midnight Plane to Houston may have been a bigger hit than Knight’s edited Midnight Train to Georgia.
Now, more lore for Houston. Just as Babe Ruth was known as the home run king, he was also the strike-out king. Just as 2017 was a year of tragedy for the people of Houston, thanks to the Astros’ victory, it is also a year of great joy.
Text and photos copyright 2017 by Les Kerr.