I didn’t grow up in a small town. Los Angeles is quite the opposite in fact. I absolutely adore my city, but it’s hustle and bustle hardened me in many ways, especially thinking back to first meeting my significant love of almost twelve years. In comparison he was softer, innocent, and much more naïve than me due to his upbringing in the rural Midwest. Walmart was the hub of the community. Upon visits multiple excursions each day were made to the superstore since there wasn’t anything else to occupy our time. A few fast-food joints lined the main road. If you didn’t want a burger, you could stop at the gas station store for fried chicken or pizza. Starbucks, my link to normalcy was a forty-five-minute drive down a two-lane highway flanked by cornfields. Being a native Angeleno from the swanky Westside, heading to my Starbucks I pass yoga studios, overly priced, fresh pressed juice stores and women so done up it is surprising they are off to the gym versus a cocktail party. Although jaded by my community, I have always remained down to earth and authentic. Sadly, living in LA my previously sweet boyfriend changed, becoming Caylee Hammack’s “Small Town Hypocrite.”
Hammack’s single is deeply personal, evaluating and even criticizing the choices we make staying with a destructive partner. In each note sang, her fury is alive, and the pain is real with explosive, radiating energy that touched my core. With raw, tender emotion, reminiscent of country’s queen, Dolly Parton, especially the similarities in her comforting, reassuring sound, Hammack repeatedly questions, “Ain’t that some shit?” That line sums it up brilliantly. The hurt is relatable and the situation completely flabbergasting. Hammack also expresses extreme vulnerability in the chorus which for me was another gut punch. “And I’m staring at a picket fence. Wonder where the hell time went. And I should’ve been running, running, running by now. But I just hang around.” Hammack’s song features Chris Stapleton whose signature vocals enhance the track and are symbolic. Stapleton’s voice echoes in the middle and tail end of the tune reminding me of my partner who disappointedly derailed the dream, leaving behind only a broken heart.
My boyfriend lied, cheated, and eventually went bat shit crazy. It’s not all his fault. I take accountability as there are always two sides of a relationship and believe me, I was far from perfect. At the end I lied and cheated too. (Yeah, I have faults, but honestly who freaking doesn’t?) I still chastise myself for staying too long, resorting to bad behaviors, feeling as if I didn’t do enough to protect him and even giving up. However, we can’t focus on the could have, would have, should haves. Hammack’s final prose illustrates that perfectly. “And now I bitch about how things turned and how they should’ve been. The bridges that I burned and the trains I didn’t catch.” That relationship, just like growing up in LA made me who I am. So, ultimately maybe I can use Hammack’s tune to see the silver lining of my “Small Town Hypocrite.”