What Happens in a Small Town

Album: Fire & Brimstone (2018)
Charted: 53
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • This country rock power ballad finds Brantley Gilbert struggling to get past the memory of a past love as familiar landmarks of his hometown serve as reminders of their time together. "It really has that want for someone you can't have, and having to live in all the places they are," said the singer.
  • Brantley Gilbert was born in the small town of Jefferson, which is where he first met his wife Amber. They had an on and off relationship for several years as he fought addiction and started his music career. The singer eventually married his longtime love in June 2015.

    Amber Cochran has inspired many of Gilbert's songs and here he's thinking back to his past breakup with his now-wife. "That's one of the great things about being in a relationship with a goodbye in it," the singer told Taste of Country.
  • Brock Berryhill, Josh Dunne and Rhett Akins helped Gilbert write the song. As they penned the tune, the singer thought it was sounding more and more like a duet, so he reached out to Lindsay Ell.

    The choice of the Canadian as his duet partner was not only because of Ell's singing ability, but also because of her prowess on the guitar. "Lindsay plays with the same emotion that she sings with," said Gilbert. "Her voice is as intense on that guitar as it is when it comes out of her mouth."
  • Gilbert first became a fan of Ell's after taking Amber and his brother in law to the Grand Ole Opry. The Canadian happened to be on stage that night.
  • Brantley Gilbert wrote this song a few days after he played a selection of demos for his fifth album to his label president Scott Borchetta. The singer recalled to The Boot that the Big Machines Records head honcho told him it was "an amazing body of work." However, though there were singles, he didn't know if he had "the single."

    Gilbert felt he needed to come up with something quickly as there was already a long gap between records, so he called Rhett Akins and Brock Berryhill and asked them if they had plans for that weekend. It turned out they were free and Josh Dunne also came along for their writing session.

    Gilbert explained they were "shooting for an uptempo, feel-good radio song," which he acknowledged is "like catching lightning in a bottle." But some way or other, it happened and they came up with "What Happens in a Small Town."

Comments

Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Graduation Songs

Graduation SongsFact or Fiction

Have you got the smarts to know which of these graduation song stories are real?

Emilio Castillo from Tower of Power

Emilio Castillo from Tower of PowerSongwriter Interviews

Emilio talks about what it's like to write and perform with the Tower of Power horns, and why every struggling band should have a friend like Huey Lewis.

Creedence Clearwater Revival

Creedence Clearwater RevivalFact or Fiction

Is "Have You Ever Seen the Rain" about Vietnam? Was John Fogerty really born on a Bayou? It's the CCR edition of Fact or Fiction.

The Girl in That Song

The Girl in That SongFact or Fiction

Billie Jean, Delilah, Sara, Laura and Sharona - do you know who the girls in the songs really are?

Allen Toussaint - "Southern Nights"

Allen Toussaint - "Southern Nights"They're Playing My Song

A song he wrote and recorded from "sheer spiritual inspiration," Allen's didn't think "Southern Nights" had hit potential until Glen Campbell took it to #1 two years later.

George Clinton

George ClintonSongwriter Interviews

When you free your mind, your ass may follow, but you have to make sure someone else doesn't program it while it's wide open.