April 16

“Little Rock” Centers on the Ill Effects of Alcoholism

I think I’m on a roll
Here in Little Rock
I’m solid as a stone
Wait and see

"Little Rock" Centers on the Ill Effects of Alcoholism 1
A sky-view of the city of Little Rock, Arkansas. (Photo Credit: houseofgenius.com)

I got just one small problem
Here in Little Rock
Without you
Baby I’m not me

A song written by Tom Douglas, “Little Rock” was recorded by American country music singer Collin Raye. In March 1994, it was released as the second single from his CD, Extremes. The song peaked at number 2 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart. Also, it peaked at number 7 on the Canadian RPM Country Tracks.

“Little Rock”: A Redemption Song

“Little Rock” centers around a man, who is a recovering alcoholic trying to rebuild his life in Little Rock, Arkansas, which also serves as a metaphor for his faltering marriage caused by his alcoholism.

He explains that he sells VCR’s in Arkansas at a Wal-Mart and that he hasn’t had a drink in nineteen days. (Interestingly, Arkansas just so happens to be where Wal-Mart was founded and remains headquartered there today).

A phrase in the song goes “I think I’m on a roll here in Little Rock.” A recovering alcoholic, the man is turning his life around but misses his girlfriend. His problems cause him to lose this significant person, and he wants her back.

A hit of songwriter Tom Douglas & singer Collin Raye

This was the first hit for songwriter Tom Douglas, who had all but given up hope on a career in songwriting.

“I was in the real estate business, so I was working with Walmart Stores at the time [the song’s protagonist works at a Walmart], and Bill Clinton [who was born in Arkansas] was running for president. I felt like I was starting over, just like the guy in the song,” he explained in a Songfacts interview. “It was a convenient way for me to tell a story. I guess I was looking for a way to reveal something about myself, so it was more of a cathartic experience rather than thinking about the radio. Not thinking about trying to write a song that somebody could record. I was just trying to validate and explain what was happening to me and was happening in the culture at the same time.”

For Douglas, the song is about redemption:

“It’s redeeming a guy that is broken and he’s healed. It’s almost like a prodigal child trying to get back home. You know, a guy starting over. It hopefully is a very redemptive song, but like any good story, it’s got to have a tension point to have a crisis so he can be redeemed.”

Moreover, the song debuted at number 63 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart dated April 9, 1994. It charted for 20 weeks on that chart and peaked at number 2 on the chart dated July 2, 1994.

Watch this Collin Raye hit and try to reflect on its message.

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Collin Raye, Little Rock

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