Josh Turner earned his fifth No. 1 single with "Hometown Girl," the second single from his Deep South album. The song, written by Marc Beeson and Daniel Tashian, was born from recollections of a childhood crush; below, Beeson and Turner share the story behind the hit single.
Marc Beeson: Writing is kind of an interesting thing to happen. It’s different all the time. Sometimes you walk in with an idea, sometimes it happens in the room.
There was an old crush of mine from high school that just kind of popped in my mind recently, before we wrote. She was just kind of in the back of my mind; I didn’t really talk about it.
Dan is one of those guys who is a really intuitive musical guy. I walked in that day -- it was just him and me -- and he said, "Hey man, what do you think of this?" And he started playing this music. I thought, "That’s so cool." And I thought, "I don’t know if this fits," and I threw something out at him, and he goes, "That’s great."
He kind of had a little phrasing thing, and the next thing you know, he had a hometown girl. Everyone’s got to have a hometown girl. I had [a hometown girl], and I’m not even sure she knew I existed, but to me, I thought she was the greatest thing ever, and so that’s what I was thinking about.
I think we just got descriptive. We were messing around with the chorus, and it just kind of fell out. We just kind of sat there, and [he] had some music going, and we fell into that cadence. It was just a series of pictures for me. I grew up in a little rural town in Illinois, and it was like a sea of corn, and so we got the corn in there. I was just thinking about this girl, and Daniel was, like, rolling with it.
Josh Turner: I was in [producer] Kenny Greenberg’s basement the first time I heard it. He had played it for me, and I knew from the first listen that the song was a hit. A lot of times, when I hear a song the first time, I never really know if it’s going to fit me or my voice. A lot of times, I’ll hear a song, and I may think it sounds great, and then I get to try to sing it, and something doesn’t quite click with it. And then there’s other times where, after [I hear] a song, it’s like, "I don’t even know if I like this song," but then when I sit down and live with it for a while, it starts growing on me, and it feels really good.
"Hometown Girl," when I first heard it -- that melody, first of all, just stuck in my head; before I even knew what the words were, I was humming that melody all the way home. That’s a pretty good sign. When I started digging in[to] the lyric, I loved what it said, and I felt like it was something that my fan base could really connect with and relate to, because I feel like a lot of the female fans here recently have complained about a lot of the songs objectifying them, and this song was the exact opposite of that. It was edifying them, it was lifting them up, it was looking past their outward appearance. It went deeper than that, and so, that appealed to me.
At the time, too, during the record-making process, I was at that point [where] I was looking for some different types of songs that I probably wouldn’t have cut in the past, because I was trying to find ways to change my sound up and different ways to present my voice, and I felt like "Hometown Girl" was just the song to do that. I feel like I grew a lot, not only as an artist but as a person, as we went along this process and tried to work hand-in-hand with radio to try to get this song played.
Country's Greatest Love Stories
"My Hometown" is a single by Bruce Springsteen off his Born in the U.S.A. album, that was the record-tying seventh and last top 10 single to come from it, peaking at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. It also topped the U.S. adult contemporary chart, making the song Springsteen's only #1 song on this chart to date. The song is a synthesizer-based, low-tempo number that features Springsteen on vocals.
The song’s lyrics begin with the speaker’s memories of his father instilling pride in the family’s hometown. While it first appears that the song will be a nostalgic look at the speaker’s childhood, the song then goes on to describe the racial violence and economic depression that the speaker witnessed as an adolescent and a young adult. The song concludes with the speaker’s reluctant proclamation that he plans to move his family out of the town, but not without first taking his own son on a drive and expressing the same community pride that was instilled in him by his father.
Some of the song's images reference the recent history of Springsteen's own hometown of Freehold Borough, New Jersey, in particular the racial strife in 1960s New Jersey and economic tensions from the same times (e.g., the "textile mill being closed" was the A & M Karagheusian Rug Mill at Center and Jackson Streets of Freehold).
The music video for "My Hometown" was a straightforward video filming of a performance of the song at a Springsteen and E Street Band concert late in the Born in the U.S.A. Tour, eschewing fast-paced cutting for slower montages of Springsteen and various band members. Despite its lack of visual excitement, it still managed substantial MTV airplay in late-1985 and early-1986.
- "My Hometown" - 4:33
- "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town" - 4:27
The B-side of the single, "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town", was a semi-comical live recording of the Christmas fave from a Springsteen and E Street Band concert on December 12, 1975 at C. W. Post College on Long Island, New York. Long familiar to Springsteen fans from its distribution years earlier to rock radio stations, it had previously been released on the fairly unknown 1981 children's album In Harmony 2; now in time for the Christmas season it was being issued again. Always a radio favorite, Bruce's "Santa Claus" would benefit from the all-holiday-music-all-the-time formats of the 2000s, and during the 2005 holiday season "Santa Claus" would appear on the Billboard Top 40 Adult Recurrents and Hot Digital Songs charts.
Live performance history
"My Hometown" was a staple selection on the Born in the U.S.A. Tour, in an arrangement very similar to the album. Springsteen sometimes preceded the song with a story about the tall veterans' monument in front of the courthouse in Freehold; later in the tour he announced gifts to local food banks, union funds, and related activities before playing the song. It quickly skyrocketed on the charts of music.
"My Hometown" was omitted during the 1988 Tunnel of Love Express Tour, but then appeared at all twenty performances on that year's later Human Rights Now! Tour, where it saluted people trying to take responsibility for their own freedom. It has been played on and off on Springsteen's various tours ever since; it is part of the repertoire of songs that Springsteen pulls out on a given night when he thinks it fits the theme or mood of a concert or location. The song has been performed about 260 times through 2008.
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
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