Song Lyric Sunday — Small Town Boy

For this week’s Song Lyric Sunday, Jim Adams’ has given us the options of selecting songs about towns, cities, counties, states, or countries. I’ve always lived in relatively large metropolitan areas and have never actually lived in a small town, which is why I’ve always been fascinated by Simon & Garfunkel’s song, “My Little Town.”

“My Little Town” was a 1975 song by the American duo Simon & Garfunkel. It was written by Paul Simon, who produced the track along with Art Garfunkel and Phil Ramone. It became the duo’s eighth top-ten hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in late 1975, peaking at number nine.

Interestingly, Simon and Garfunkel had decided to part ways in 1970 and to record their own solo material. In June 1972 they were asked to reunite and to sing at a political benefit concert for U. S. presidential candidate George McGovern at Madison Square Garden, New York City. Then, in early 1975, Simon had decided to prepare material for a new solo album in which the music was a bit more personal. But he said that “My Little Town”was written with Garfunkel specifically in mind. Simon had been quoted as saying, “It originally was a song I was writing for Artie. I was gonna write a song for his new album, and I told him it would be a nasty song, because he was singing too many sweet songs. It seemed like a good concept for him.” After playing the song for Garfunkel, the two decided to collaborate again in the studio on this one track.

Simon has stated that the song was not autobiographical. He said that it was about “someone who hated the town he grew up in and was happy to get out.” But Garfunkel has explained that the song was, in fact, about his own childhood and how he “grew up in an area where a career in music was not seen as either desirable or exciting.”

When I listen to the song and read the lyrics, my impression is that it was written about a kid who grows up in a small town, but wants to get out and to never come back, leaving the dead and dying behind. The song is incredibly evocative, conveying feelings of nostalgia, fondness, cynicism, and disillusionment, where the now older, wiser young man can see the unattractive truth that his youthful innocence obscured.

Here are the lyrics to “My Little Town.”

In my little town
I grew up believing
God keeps his eye on us all
And He used to lean upon me
As I pledged allegiance to the wall
Lord, I recall

My little town
Coming home after school
Flying my bike past the gates
Of the factories
My mom doing the laundry
Hanging our shirts
In the dirty breeze

And after it rains
There’s a rainbow
And all of the colors are black
It’s not that the colors aren’t there
It’s just imagination they lack
Everything’s the same
Back in my little town

Nothing but the dead and dying
Back in my little town
Nothing but the dead and dying
Back in my little town

In my little town
I never meant nothin’
I was just my father’s son
Saving my money
Dreaming of glory
Twitching like a finger
On the trigger of a gun
Leaving nothing but the dead and dying
Back in my little town

Nothing but the dead and dying
Back in my little town
Nothing but the dead and dying
Back in my little town

12 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday — Small Town Boy

  1. Maggie May 30, 2021 / 5:52 am

    I love this song. It reminds me of the time I lived in Ohio, but I suppose it is the anthem for every kid that wants more for their life.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. newepicauthor May 30, 2021 / 6:36 am

    The first election that I voted in, I went with McGovern. Nice song Fandango.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Melanie B Cee May 30, 2021 / 7:16 am

    I’ve lived in my fair share of small towns, including the one I live in now. I also lived (most of my life) in Salt Lake City, which now is a large city, but in my childhood was far smaller and more ‘small towny’ perhaps. There are good and bad in both situations, big cities, and small towns. Small towns take getting used to I think. Great share! Thanks, Fandango…Simon & Garfunkel really had it down.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango May 30, 2021 / 6:34 pm

      I’m glad you liked my song choice, Melanie.


  4. aisasami June 5, 2021 / 10:01 am

    My mom loves small towns. When I was little, my mom would drive use all around the little towns of the East Coast and Midwest. She always love her small town papers. I actually want to live in a small town because I feel more at home then a big city

    Simon and Garfunkel tune are always great to listen to! Didn’t know the back story of this song, so it was great to read it.

    Liked by 1 person

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