Hal Ketchum/Miranda Lambert/Alan Jackson/YouTube
There are differing opinions about what exactly a “small town” is. But, most country fans would agree that there’s nothing quite like small town living. Being a part of a community where everybody knows your name (and your business) has its pros and cons. But one thing is for sure…you can’t beat the spirit of a rural America town where patriotism, back breaking work and a hand-shake promise are appreciated.
For those raised in a small town (or wish they were), we’ve rounded up 11 of our favorite country songs that describe the joys of small town life. Did we forget any?
“Small Town Southern Man” was the lead single from Alan Jackson’s 2oo7 album Good Time. While there are similarities to Alan Jackson’s life and that of his father, the singer said that it wasn’t a tribute song to his dad or granddad. According to Jackson, the song is actually a tribute to anyone who shared a small town upbringing like his own. “Wherever you go, there are rural people that are working for a living and raising families. They all have the same qualities and goals as a small town Southern man,” Alan told Country Weekly.
Upon its release, “Small Town Southern Man” became Alan Jackson’s 23rd No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.
“Small Town Saturday Night” was penned by Hank DeVito and popular ’90s songwriter Pat Alger (of “The Thunder Rolls” fame) and was released by Hal Ketchum in 1991. The song was the first single from Ketchum’s debut album, Past the Point of Rescue, and reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart.
Ironically, Ketchum was born and raised in Greenwich, New York, but got a taste of small town life when he moved to Texas later in life. One of his first consistent gigs was playing at a dance hall outside of New Braunfels, the town that inspired “Small Town Saturday Night.” The song was arguably the biggest hit of Ketchum’s career as listeners found it relatable and nostalgic.
Miranda Lambert co-wrote “Famous in a Small Town” for her 2007 album Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Inspired by Lambert’s own small town, Lindale, Texas, upbringing. The accompanying music video shows Lambert singing on a town square and shows common events in the lives of rural Americans. The small town clips are interspersed with clips of Miranda playing guitar and singing on a red carpet as cameras flash.
Whether you’re late for church
Or you’re stuck in jail
Hey, word’s gonna get around
Everybody dies famous in a small town
“Try That In a Small Town” became Jason Aldean’s biggest successes, but it was due, in part, to controversy surrounding it. While the lyrics to Jason’s small town song don’t differ much from others on this list, the song found itself shrouded in controversy upon the release of the music video.
“Try That In a Small Town” boasts the small town idea of community and that neighbors have each others’ backs. It also speaks of big city violence being unwelcome in small towns.
In 2009, “Small Town USA” became Justin Moore’s first No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. According to Moore, “Small Town USA” was one of the first songs he wrote after moving to Nashville, Tennessee. It was inspired by his being homesick for his hometown of Poyen, Arkansas.
A true small town boy, Kenny Chesney was immediately drawn to “I’m a Small Town.” Not only could he relate to the lyrics, but thought the writer’s approach was something new and unique.
“I’ve never heard a song like this one where the small town is talking about itself in third-person, and about everything that it’s seen,” Chesney said in 2012.
“Small Town Girl” was the title track from Kellie Pickler’s debut album in 2006, the same year she competed on American Idol.“ A few years after recording the song, Picker said that the song and the album were “about where I grew up, but that’s not all of me. … That’s through the eyes of the young girl that I was in that particular time of my life.”
“Small Town” was released by John Anderson in 1997 as a single from his Takin’ the Country Back album. The song captures the essence of small town life with the storylines of small town gossip, people leaving town and never coming back, and familiar sights and sounds.
Walker Hayes released “Y’all Life” in 2022 as a follow-up single to his highly successful hits “AA” and “Fancy Like.” In a statement issued at the song’s release, Hayes shared that the song was inspired by his “normal” family and is meant to celebrate life and what it means to live in the moment.
“I’ve found the more I show people the ‘real,’ the more relatable it seems to be, so here’s to more stories about how y’all are livin’, too!”
The music video for “Y’all Life” perfectly portrays small town life through hometown football games, pickup driving and church on Sunday.
In 2017, Dustin Lynch released “Small Town Boy” from his album Current Mood. People connected with the song instantly and sent it to the top of the US Billboard Country Airplay chart where it stayed for 4 weeks!
The song was written by Rhett Akins, Ben Hayslip and Kyle Fishman and tells the story of how it was to be in love with a girl and how it was to be a small town boy.
In 2014, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill released “Meanwhile Back at Mama’s.” The song is written from the perspective of someone who tired of city life who is longing for the slow pace and community found in a small town.
“Oh I miss yeah a little dirt on the roadI miss corn growing in a row I miss being somebody everybody knows there Everybody knows everybody I miss those small town roots Walking around in muddy boots The sound of rain on an old tin roof It’s time we head on back”
McGraw told CBS News that he and Faith were immediately drawn to the song “Because of what it said, because of our life together, how we felt about family.”