"Tiny Televisions" was inspired by a horrific scene witnessed in the Little Sister's Home for the Poor in Nashville, Tennessee.
Catholic nuns built Little Sister's in 1916 to care for the poor and downtrodden, as the name implies. Like most places of its kind, the service became basically obsolete with the advent of the American welfare system a few decades later. At that point, the building was switched over to act as a nursing home. At some point in the history of that nursing home, things went south. Conditions got bad. Residents lived in cramped squalor. Suicides were common.
Steve Armistead, a friend of Granville Automatic
, witnessed those conditions when he started work on restoring the building. He saw elderly people packed into an old chapel, watching tiny televisions. Years later, he told this story to Granville, instantly planting the seed for this song.
The song's written from the perspective of a resident watching the fantastic news events of the middle 20th century on a tiny television, trapped inside a nightmare while the world goes on indifferently outside.
Following Armistead's restoration, the building would be occupied by Sony Music and BMG Music.