46: Little Rock

46: Little Rock

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Country Music

Little Rock

Story by Tom Douglas

Song written by Tom Douglas

Recorded by Collin Raye

When I wrote “Little Rock,” I had just left Nashville, never to return — or so I thought. I had come to Nashville to make it in the music business in the early 1980s, but hadn’t had much success. So I gave it all up and went to sell real estate in Dallas. It seemed like I was reinventing myself every few years back then, so this was another chance to do so. It turned out, though, the changes in the real estate laws in 1986 made it almost as tough to make it in real estate as it was to make it in the music business in Nashville, so it was pretty frustrating. It was a terrible time to be in real estate, and Texas had a lot of its own challenges with the oil boom dying off overnight.

In the song, the guy is writing to his old girlfriend after he leaves town to try to sober up. I was never really an alcoholic myself, but I have had times in my life when I overindulged in a lot of things, so I could relate to the singer in the song. I never sold VCRs at a Walmart either, but I felt like I was when I was selling real estate. I never lived in Little Rock either, but this was in the early 1990s, and Bill Clinton was running for president, so Little Rock was in the news every time you picked up the paper. I also liked the play on words with: “I’m on a roll here in Little Rock.” That obviously wouldn’t have worked with Dallas.

When I got to Dallas, I kept writing songs, but I gave up trying to achieve commercial success as a songwriter, and that’s when my writing got a lot better. While I was living in Dallas, I went to a songwriter’s seminar in Austin one weekend. A Nashville producer, Paul Worley, was there, and he heard the song and a verse and a chorus from another song and said he really liked them. I gave him a cassette tape to take with him, and never thought much more about it.

When Paul got back to Nashville, I got a call from him. He said that he was going to play it for Collin Raye, who was also from Texas, and he later recorded it. It ended up being a pretty big hit for him.

What was really rewarding for me about this song was that, at the end of the video, the label and the people who produced the video decided to put up a phone number with an 800 number for Al-Anon. I heard later that whenever that video aired, they would have thousands of calls from all over the country from people who wanted to find out more about Alcoholics Anonymous. It was really gratifying as a songwriter to know that the song had such a positive impact on so many lives.

Little Rock

I know I disappeared a time or two

And along the way I lost me and you

I needed a new town for my new start

I’m selling VCR’s in Arkansas at a Wal-Mart

I haven’t had a drink in 19 days

My eyes are clear a bright without that haze

I like the preacher from the Church of Christ

Sorry that I cried when I talked to you last night


I think I’m on a roll here in Little Rock

I’m solid as a stone baby wait and see

I got just one small problem here in Little Rock

Without you, baby I’m not me

I don’t why I held it all inside

You must have thought I never even tried

You know your daddy told me when I left

Jesus would forgive, but your Daddy won’t forget


Right here upon this motel bed

My thoughts of you explode inside my head

and like a castle build upon the sand

I let love crumble in my hands


To purchase the original demo of this song,
go to www.countrysongdemos.com

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