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Songs About Trading the Country Life for the City

Updated on February 16, 2019

Glen Campbell Was Just One Of Many Artists Who Sang Of Transitioning To City Life


Both Country Music And Rock Have Explored The Feeling Of Exchanging Rural Life For Urban

Elton John is on his last tour, which has been appropriately been called "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" after one of his most popular songs. The lyrics of that hit, written by John's long time songwriting partner Bernie Taupin, paint a much different picture than the one John will probably draw after his retirement.

According to the title track of Sir Elton's number one album, a man has grown disgruntled over life in the city. As a result, he has made up his mind to bid adieu to metropolitan life and return to the farm life he had experienced as a youth.

Whatever may be his next pursuit after saying goodbye to the yellow brick road this year, it is highly unlikely that John will be returning to the farm life like that of the subject in the song. He has always seemed much to fond of glamour to ever go back to a plow or a howling old owl in the wood, so he will spend his retirement closer to the city than the country.

Leaving the city in favor of the country seems less popular, at least in terms of popular songs. In fact, the opposite scenario has resulted in more hits, on which the subject leaves the country life to venture to the city.

Here are ten such songs, including a Top Ten classic by Elton John himself.

1. Honky Cat by Elton John
Right before Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was released, Elton had scored this hit and "Rocket Man" from the Honky Chateau album.

2. City Boy by Phil Ochs
Born in a rural Ohio town outside of Columbus, the protest singer on this poignant ballad explains why he prefers urban life.

3. Country Boy (You've Got Your Feet in L.A.) by Glenn Campbell
His Rhinestone Cowboy loved the glamor of the city, so the title character seems to be akin to that horseman riding in the famous star-spangled rodeo.

4. Sand In Your Shoes by Al Stewart
Year of the Cat not only had the mystical title track and the single "On the Border" but also contained this salute to a small town girl who could not wait to get to the city.

5. Jim Dean Of Indiana by Phil Ochs
On this track Ochs relates the transformation of the famous star of Rebel Without A Cause who, like the folk singer, left a farm in the Midwest to pursue a career in entertainment.

6. City Lights by Ray Price
Bill Anderson wrote this tune about the allure of the big town, but it was Price's version that made the biggest impression on the charts.

7. The City That Put The Country Back Into Me by Neal McCoy
Like many country stars before him, McCoy confessed to missing the simple agrarian life while pursuing a career that was based in big cities.

8. Green Rolling Hills by Emmylou Harris
Reluctance to leave her country town is evident in this ballad by the folk singer, who in order to find musical success had to flee to where the lights shine more brightly.

9. Country Home by Neil Young
Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere revealed Young's longing for his rural childhood in Canada, while this hit describes the sometimes painful transition from the jog of farm life to the foot race that is the pace in the city.

10. Southern Girl, City Lights by Jessie James Decker
This title track describes the longing a woman from a small rural town feels while she is working in a metropolis.


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