Lyrics Uncovered: Dustin Lynch, ‘Small Town Boy’
Dustin Lynch's "Small Town Boy" lyrics and music are tying together his past and his future, moving him forward another step in one of the fastest-rising careers in country music.
The rising country superstar has scored a string of four No. 1 hits in a row, the most recent of which, "Seein' Red," took him in a much more progressive direction at country radio. "Small Town Boy" splits the difference between that progressive edge and the classic themes of country music, and co-writer Ben Hayslip attributes that to the way the song was written.
Hayslip worked with Rhett Akins and Kyle Fishman on the track. Hayslip and Akins are lifelong friends who wrote their first song together, while Fishman is a rising young writer in Nashville who works primarily in building audio tracks. Fishman is signed to a deal with Dallas Davidson, who along with Hayslip and Akins forms the Peach Pickers, and Davison brought him out on the road while the trio were opening Luke Bryan's Farm Tour in October of 2015, hoping they would click.
"Rhett is laying in his bunk, and I'm at the front of the bus, and I just hear Kyle in the back with this beat going," Hayslip recalls to Taste of Country. "So I walk back there and I said, 'Let's write it,' and I tried to get Rhett out of his bunk to write, but he was tired."
Hayslip had had an idea the previous night for a song titled "Small Town Boy Like Me," and he started singing the bones of his idea over Fishman's track.
"It took Rhett about 10 minutes of hearing what was going on to get out of his bunk and come join us," he relates.
Hayslip and Akins have an easy songwriting chemistry born from long experience, and once they jumped on the song, they made short work of it. With Fishman's track expertise, Hayslip recalls they not only finished the "Small Town Boy" lyrics and music in a couple of hours, they had a complete demo recorded.
it's just two worlds coming together to make something really cool.
Hayslip and Akins drew the "Small Town Boy" lyrics straight from their own experiences.
"I'm a dirt road in the headlights / I'm a mama's boy, I'm a fist fight / Kinda county line, kinda cold beer / Little hat down, little John Deere," Lynch sings to open the song, building all the way up to Hayslip's tag line that sparked the song, "She loves a small town boy like me."
Juxtaposed with Fishman's contemporary approach, it creates a fresh take on some timeless subject matter.
"It's kinda two worlds meeting," Hayslip reflects. "Kyle's a young, 20-something kid from California, and me and Rhett grew up in South Georgia. We've been that kid in that song. We've been a small town boy. So it's just two worlds coming together to make something really cool."
The writers didn't have any artist in mind during their writing session, but Hayslip and Akins are both close to Dustin Lynch, and it didn't take long for the song to find its way to him. Although they have access to every top artist in Nashville, Hayslip says they never hesitate to send songs to Lynch.
"Dustin is really high up on our list ... if Dustin is looking for songs, he's gonna get what we've got to offer just as fast as we're gonna give it to the guys who've had more hits and have been doing it longer than he has," he affirms.
It's widely understood in Nashville that Lynch is on a career trajectory to become an arena headliner along the lines of Bryan or Jason Aldean.
"We believe in him, and he's such a good guy," Hayslip says. "He's hungry and he wants to hear songs. He's got the talent, he's got the ear for hit songs ... he's got everything you need, and he's a very hard worker. He wants to be the best. He's a competitor, and he learns. He wants to learn and be the best that he can be."
Hayslip hopes that "Small Town Boy" is another brick in the road to building that career.
"I just hope this song brings him a new crowd. You're always trying to build on your audience," he says. "I've got a 20-year-old second cousin that lives in Georgia who follows my career and everything, but this is the first time he's ever personally called me and said, 'Man, I love this song.' I think there's a new crowd, a new generation of people this song can possibly bring to Dustin Lynch. I think it's gonna be a big song for him, I really do."
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