Small Town
Small Town is a song written by John Cougar Mellencamp
John Mellencamp
John Mellencamp, previously known by the stage names Johnny Cougar, John Cougar, and John Cougar Mellencamp, is an American rock singer-songwriter, musician, painter and occasional actor known for his catchy, populist brand of heartland rock that eschews synthesizers and other artificial sounds...

 and released on his 1985 album Scarecrow
Scarecrow (John Mellencamp album)
Scarecrow is the eighth album by John Mellencamp. Released in August 1985 by Mercury Records, it peaked at #2 on the U.S. charts. It was remastered and reissued on Mercury Records on May 24, 2005, with one bonus track....

. The song reached #6 on the Billboard Hot 100
Billboard Hot 100
The Billboard Hot 100 is the United States music industry standard singles popularity chart issued weekly by Billboard magazine. Chart rankings are based on radio play and sales; the tracking-week for sales begins on Monday and ends on Sunday, while the radio play tracking-week runs from Wednesday...



Mellencamp wrote the song about his experiences growing up in a small town in Indiana
Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

, having been born in Seymour, Indiana
Seymour, Indiana
Seymour was the site of the World's First Train Robbery, committed by the local Reno Gang, on October 6, 1866 just east of town. The gang was put into prison for the robbery, and later hanged at Hangman's Crossing outside of town....

, and living in Bloomington, Indiana
Bloomington, Indiana
Bloomington is a city in and the county seat of Monroe County in the southern region of the U.S. state of Indiana. The population was 80,405 at the 2010 census....

, which, at the time of the release of the song, was much smaller. The music video has references to both towns. After that, Mellencamp has been known as champion of "small town America."

In popular culture

On December 16, 1987, Mellencamp played two free concerts in the small town of Chillicothe, Ohio
Chillicothe, Ohio
Chillicothe is a city in and the county seat of Ross County, Ohio, United States.Chillicothe was the first and third capital of Ohio and is located in southern Ohio along the Scioto River. The name comes from the Shawnee name Chalahgawtha, meaning "principal town", as it was a major settlement of...

 where one-fifth of the population signed a petition asking him to play. He performed at the Ohio University-Chillicothe
Ohio University-Chillicothe
Sitting atop the hills represented in the Great Seal of Ohio, Ohio University – Chillicothe is a non-residential regional campus with an enrollment of more than 2,500 students. For more than 60 years, OU-C has remained devoted to its mission of preparing students for the challenges of tomorrow and...

 branch on University Drive. At the time, CNN was the only major news carrier, they were at the event with cameras in hand.

NBA legend and fellow Indiana native Larry Bird
Larry Bird
Larry Joe Bird is a former American NBA basketball player and coach. Drafted into the NBA sixth overall by the Boston Celtics in 1978, Bird started at small forward and power forward for thirteen seasons, spearheading one of the NBA's most formidable frontcourts that included center Robert Parish...

 used this song on his retirement ceremony in 1993, particularly referring his town French Lick, Indiana as a "small town". It was also used for him in the NBA Superstars video series.

While performing for the NFL Kickoff Special on NBC on September 6, 2007 to celebrate his hometown Indianapolis Colts
Indianapolis Colts
The Indianapolis Colts are a professional American football team based in Indianapolis. They are currently members of the South Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League ....

 opening the season after winning Super Bowl XLI
Super Bowl XLI
Super Bowl XLI was an American football game that featured the American Football Conference champion Indianapolis Colts and the National Football Conference champion Chicago Bears to decide the National Football League champion for the 2006 season...

, some of the well-known lyrics were changed. "My wife was 13 when I wrote this song" being among the more humorous of lines not in the original. The "L.A. Doll" he 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
Ryan White
Ryan Wayne White was an American teenager from Kokomo, Indiana, who became a national poster child for HIV/AIDS in the United States, after being expelled from middle school because of his infection. A hemophiliac, he became infected with HIV from a contaminated blood treatment and, when diagnosed...


The song was also used as the theme song for the Discovery Times
Discovery Times
Investigation Discovery is a television network that is owned by Discovery Communications. The channel features documentary-style programming dealing with criminal investigations , and other crime-related documentaries.-History:The channel launched in 1996 under the name Discovery Civilization...

 documentary series Off to War, which covered Arkansas Army National Guard
Arkansas Army National Guard
The Arkansas Army National Guard is a component of the Arkansas National Guard and the United States National Guard. Nationwide, the Army National Guard comprises approximately one half of the US Army's available combat forces and approximately one third of its support organization...

 soldiers, most of them from rural Clarksville, Arkansas
Clarksville, Arkansas
Clarksville is a city in Johnson County, Arkansas, United States. The population was approximately 9,300 at the 2010 census. The city is the county seat of Johnson County.. Clarksville is nestled between the Arkansas River and the foot hills of the Ozark Mountains and Interstate 40 and US Hwy 64...

, during their tour of duty in Operation: Iraqi Freedom.

The song is played after Green Bay Packer games.

For a while, it was performed by Paul Shaffer
Paul Shaffer
Paul Allen Wood Shaffer, CM is a Canadian musician, actor, voice actor, author, comedian, and composer who has been David Letterman's sidekick since 1982.-Early years:...

 and the CBS Orchestra
CBS Orchestra
The CBS Orchestra is the house band, led by Paul Shaffer, that plays for David Letterman's CBS late-night talk show, Late Show with David Letterman...

 prior to and in closing the Small Town News sketches featured on Late Show with David Letterman.
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