John Mellencamp – Small Town

I always liked this song because I could/can relate to it. I grew up in a small town where everyone knew everyone else. It had its drawbacks but was a great place to grow up.

Mellencamp wrote this about his experiences growing up in the small town of Seymour, Indiana. The media portrayed Mellencamp as the champion of small-town America when the song was released. While he has remained true to his roots and often returns to Seymour, he claims he was simply writing about his life, and not trying to make a statement.

The song is on what I always thought was his best album Scarecrow. Small Town peaked at #6 in the Billboard 100 in 1985. Scarecrow peaked at #2 in the same year in the Billboard Album Chart.

From Songfacts

The music Mellencamp listened to growing up in the ’60s was a huge influence on his work, and he often put bits of classics songs from that era in his tracks. On the bridge of “Small Town,” you can hear the riff from The Supremes song “Back in My Arms Again.”

Mellencamp believes this was a hit because it makes people feel good. He thinks many of his songs don’t do well because they make people confront problems, like the plight of American farmers.

Mellencamp would sometimes add the line “My wife was 13 years old growing up in a small town when I wrote this song,” referring to his wife, the model Elaine Irwin, who is 17 years younger. The couple split up in 2010.

Mellencamp wrote this song after having a number of conversations with folks from New York who seemed to think he – and everyone else from the middle of the country – was a rube. “I wanted to write a song that said, ‘you don’t have to live in New York or Los Angeles to live a full life,'” he toldĀ Rolling StoneĀ in 2013. “I was never one of those guys that grew up and thought, ‘I need to get out of here.’ It never dawned on me. I just valued having a family and staying close to friends.”

Small Town

Well I was born in a small town
And I live in a small town
Probably die in a small town
Oh, those small communities

All my friends are so small town
My parents live in the same small town
My job is so small town
Provides little opportunity

Educated in a small town
Taught the fear of Jesus in a small town
Used to daydream in that small town
Another boring romantic that’s me

But I’ve seen it all in a small town
Had myself a ball in a small town
Married an L.A. doll and brought her to this small town
Now she’s small town just like me

No I cannot forget where it is that I come from
I cannot forget the people who love me
Yeah, I can be myself here in this small town
And people let me be just what I want to be

Got nothing against a big town
Still hayseed enough to say
Look who’s in the big town
But my bed is in a small town
Oh, and that’s good enough for me

Well I was born in a small town
And I can breathe in a small town
Gonna die in this small town
And that’s probably where they’ll bury me