The “Small Town USA” singer-songwriter recommends working at the beach, his mother’s cooking, and staying home until age 30.
Small-town guy Justin Moore first went to No. 1 a decade ago with the song “Small Town USA.” Since then, he’s hit the big time in a big way. Before going on the road with his Late Nights and Longnecks tour — scheduled to kick off January 16 in Dodge City, Kansas, and wrap up April 11 in Green Bay, Wisconsin — the Arkansas native talked with us about making the new album, leaving Nashville to move back home, and living on his family’s land.
Late Nights and Longnecks at the Beach
More so than any other place, [I find inspiration at] the beach. A lot of guys who live in Nashville — I was one of them for 10 years or so — would make an appointment at 10 o’clock and go to somebody’s office and write. A lot of artists write on their buses, which I’ve done a number of times also. But I don’t feel as creative in those environments as I do somewhere like the beach. Six years ago or so, we bought a house down on the Florida Panhandle, in the Destin area. We spend all summer down there, so it’s a special place for my family. When I first moved to Nashville, my producer and I ... would just pop down there and rent a house and lock ourselves in, drink beer, write songs. A lot of those early album cuts and hit records we had, we wrote down there. As we were discussing what we were going to do on this album, I said, “Man, why don’t we just go down to my house and do like we used to and grab a couple of our songwriter buddies and go lock ourselves in, drink beer, write songs?” We’re all married now and have kids, so I don’t know how we slipped that one past our wives, but we did. And it was probably the most fun I’ve had making an album.
Back Home in Poyen, Arkansas
When I go home, outside of playing golf or hunting or fishing, my hobbies are either working on a tractor or doing something outside on our property. ... [The land’s] been in our family since the late 1800s. My mom and dad live on it. My uncle and his family live on it. And a first cousin of mine lives on it along with us. When we moved back, we were looking for land, and it’s kind of hard to come by in Poyen. So the idea was floated out there by my grandpa, and my parents and aunts and uncles said, “Why don’t you just buy this land and keep it in the family?” So that’s what my wife and I tried to do, and it’s been great. I’m not a big-city guy, obviously, and I like having property where we can get out, ride four-wheelers or horses or whatever.
Why He Stays Small Town
It’s home. When we were getting ready to graduate high school, I was the one guy who said, “Hey man, I want to stay home and eat my mom’s cooking until I’m 30. I don’t want to go nowhere.” And I’m the only one, of course, that ended up going somewhere. ... Nashville’s been really good to me. I have great relationships and friends there still, and spend some time there now. But it was always my intention to move back home, because I grew up in a town of 300 people ... and I’m very, very close to my family. I wanted to raise my kids the way I was raised. I wanted them to grow up where I grew up and go to church, and I wanted to attend church at home. When I get off the road, I’d rather be eating lunch at my mom and dad’s house or my grandma’s house than be 450 miles away. I’m still Justin there.
For Moore's recommendations for a Western weekend in Arkansas, click here.
Photography: Courtesy Cody Villalobos
From our February/March 2020 issue.