Joe Kann is a singer-songwriter telling his stories through folksy melodies and acoustic guitar. In his new song “Old Town Square,” the muse is a once vibrant small town that is now rundown and abandoned, only existing in the form of broken buildings and faded memories.
Kann sings about the people and businesses of the town, painting the picture of a close-knit and simple community. The specificity of the lyrics, such as “Old Man Western’s Hardware Store was the last one on that main drag,” makes the song more personal and Kann’s grief more relatable. The listener can easily imagine these people and their lives, which makes the knowledge that the town is gone even more sorrowful.
Moving into the chorus, Kann reminisces on “all the life that filled the air” in the town square, because now all the windows are boarded up. All of the establishments, dreams, and proof that people lived in this town are long gone. Kann is nostalgic for the lives that used to exist.
Kann also alludes to the idea of city life and big corporations leading to the downfall of small towns, citing a new Walmart as one of the first causes of the town’s decline into decrepitude. Corporations like these really disadvantage small local businesses, but there’s little that owners can do to stop it. Kann’s gripping vocals and finger-picking guitar style allow the lyrics to really sit with you. A remorseful song about the hardships of change, “Old Town Square” by Joe Kann is a moving listen.
Written by Emily Cushing
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