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  • Writer's pictureTerry Pace

Iris DeMent: Our Town

Updated: Apr 2, 2020

Our Town (1986) by Iris DeMent (1961). DeMent spent her early years in Arkansas then grew up in California, though her voice and outlook remains in the fields, woods and small towns of the Mississippi delta. This is an artistic song about the profound memories of place as the holder and marker of one's life. This was the first song DeMent wrote. The place she writes of is a small town, "our town" or any town where one may have lived a long time when young, so most of one's coming of age adventures and loves are there. The song is also about how small towns often fade or die, especially in this fast pace materialistic world where nothing seems sacred and loss is the essence of life if one is romantically inclined. There is also the mention of leaving this small home town and the mixed emotions people feel at such times of necessity or decision. This song was used in the closing scene of the TV series Northern Exposure as a fitting send off to such a quirky sentimental show. Perhaps my favorite verse is this: "Now I sit on the porch and watch the lightening-bugs fly. But I can't see too good, I got tears in my eyes. I'm leaving tomorrow, but I don't want to go. I love you my town, you'll always live in my soul." I know what this feels like.

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