It was January of 2007. I remember I’d just finished writing this song in Gary and Lori Finn’s spare bedroom in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. A room I rented for $150 a month (God bless you, Finns).
I had a show at the Walnut Room in Denver the next night and thought, if I felt good, I’d try the song out.
If you listen to the recording, you can hear that some of the lyrics have change, and the overall delivery is shaky. But I remember that night feeling like I’d touched on something that I’d never touched on before. A person laughs at “…ATM in the Ben Franklin” line. It’s such a specific reference and a wink to those of you in the upper Midwest. It was the first time I realized I liked being more specific in my writing. My first album was cloaked in metaphors that could mean a lot of different things to different people. But being more specific was a little more dangerous, and I was beginning to be ok with that.
That realization would set the tone for the whole album Songs From a Small Town, where my writing got more specific.
Performing “Small Town” live two days after I’d written it:
Talking about “Small Town” and Roseau on MPR + live performance:
The demo I gave my producer to see if he liked the song:
This is original album cover photo. Jennika Wrightsman. Her family lived next door to me.
This is the Ben Franklin I refer to in the song. I used to ride my bike here to look at the goldfish and buy baseball cards. There was also a small arcade where I played Street Fighter more times than my mother will ever know.