|Single by John Cougar Mellencamp|
|from the album Scarecrow|
|B-side||"Small Town" (acoustic version)|
|Released||November 2, 1985|
|Recorded||Belmont Mall Studio, April 17, 1985|
|Genre||Heartland rock, roots rock|
|Producer(s)||John Mellencamp, Don Gehman|
|John Cougar Mellencamp singles chronology|
Mellencamp wrote the song about his experiences growing up in a small town in Indiana, having been born in Seymour, Indiana, and living in Bloomington, Indiana, which, at the time of the release of the song, was much smaller. The music video has references to both towns.
"I wrote that song in the laundry room of my old house," Mellencamp told American Songwriter magazine in 2004. "We had company, and I had to go write the song. And the people upstairs could hear me writing and they were all laughing when I came up. They said, 'You've got to be kidding.' What else can you say about it?"
In popular culture
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NBA legend and fellow Indiana native Larry Bird used the song during his retirement ceremony in 1993, referring to his hometown of French Lick, Indiana as a "small town." The Sports Illustrated-produced VHS NBA Superstars featured a highlight reel of Bird set to the song.
"Small Town" was featured in the 1998 movie The Waterboy.
While he was married to Elaine Irwin, Mellencamp would change the lyrics from "married an L.A. doll and brought her to this small town/Now she's small town just like me" to "my wife was 13 years old when I wrote this song/Now she's small town just like me." Irwin was 18 years Mellencamp's junior, so she was a teenager when Mellencamp wrote the song in the mid-80s, although they didn't meet until 1991. The "L.A. Doll" Mellencamp sings of in the original version was his then-wife Victoria Granucci.
The song was used as the opening theme to the television movie, The Ryan White Story.
"Small Town" was also used as the theme song for the Discovery Times documentary series Off to War, which covered Arkansas Army National Guard soldiers, most of them from rural Clarksville, Arkansas, during their tour of duty in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The song is played after Green Bay Packers games.
For a while, "Small Town" was performed by Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra prior to and in closing the Small Town News sketches featured on Late Show with David Letterman.