Tracy Byrd

"Tiny Town," from native Texan Tracy Byrd's recent The Truth About Men, is the third-best tiny-town tune I've heard this year, behind "Nowhere," the Bubba Sparxxx/Kiley Dean duet from Bubba's Deliverance, and "Shh," the unlisted closer from Atmosphere's Seven's Travels, in which MC Slug big-ups his home of Minneapolis, which probably doesn't qualify as a tiny town even if Slug makes it sound like one. In his song Byrd spends the verses outlining daily life in typical Nashvillian detail: "My dad ran a station by the railroad track/ Half his life spent on his back underneath a car"; "My mom sold Avon in the neighborhood/I'd wait in the car hoping she'd done good so I'd have a dime to spend on the ice cream man." Then in the chorus he reverts to cliché but tries to wriggle out of it by copping to his laziness: "They say home is where your heart is/And I guess it's true/And they say you can't go back/But I close my eyes and I'm driving through." And it works, the juxtaposition successfully capturing that ineffable blend of the novel and the familiar that is the small community's situation--the reason a young guy I know won't move out of the frozen backwater his extended family calls home, the reason plenty don't. It's nowhere, like Bubba says, but it's also everywhere, all the time.

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