Janis Ian - This Old Town Lyrics




This old town should have burned down in 1929
That's when we stood in line
Waiting for our soup while swallowing our pride
This old town should have burned down in 1931
When the rain refused to come
Air filled up our bellies
Dust filled up our lungs
And we thought our time had come

But this old town was built by hand
In the dustbowl of the motherland
There must be rock beneath this sand
I'll be damned - this town still stands

This old town should have burned down in 1944
When the last man went to war
They came back different, if they came back at all
This old town should have burned down in 1956
That's when the twister hit
All our hopes lay buried beneath the boards and bricks
And we almost called it quits

But this old town was built by hand
In the dustbowl of the motherland
There must be rock beneath this sand
I'll be damned - this town still stands

Somewhere in the distance
The city lights do shine
Sidewalks gleam with neon dreams
That call from time to time
When my children's children ask me
Why I didn't go
I'll say - the heart of any town
Is the people that you've known
And they always call you home

This old town was built by hand
In the dustbowl of the motherland
There is be rock beneath the sand
I'll be damned - this town still stands





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Janis Ian This Old Town Comments
  1. tokyoteetotaller

    Thank you for posting this! It's wonderful! Love the story and the song. And now I know what one of Janis' Living Room Concerts is like. This lifelong Janis Ian fan thanks you!

  2. EdD5

    Damn, so good.

  3. Nick j

    Many thanks for posting.

  4. Dick van Aggelen

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xc-yG06NPq0

  5. Mark Barry

    Hey Janis, is your guitar in a different tuning? Great version!

    george fuller

    Mark Barry yeh what is that tuning !?!?

    Roger Turner

    No - regular tuning. The song is in G but with a capo on the first fret. Although she is using a thumb pick and fingers, she is playing in a flat-picking style around G,D,C and Em. She is a very accomplished guitarist and maybe makes it sound like she is using an alternate tuning.

  6. Nao Ishiwatari

    💓🎶

  7. Matthew Shea

    i knew this came from somewhere. thank you naci, and especially thank you janis

  8. Gail Williams

    Good to hear Janis singing this.  I really like Nanci's version.

  9. Bob Ray Seamans

    She's going to be back in Portland! $25 at the door...hoping to take my spouse

  10. Laura Selden

    I must see Janis Ian live. Wish I could afford a ticket.

  11. Christopher Finkbone

    Wow! I've listened to the Nanci Griffith version of this song hundreds of times, and I've never heard anything about the background of the song. I love this footage. This is fantastic. Thanks for the song Janis, and thanks for posting Joan.

  12. Mark 5150

    wow, this looks like a very intimate performanace...*jealous*!!!! wish I could've seen it!

    Chris Sawyer

    You can Book your own Living Room concert! Ive been to one, in the UK. Great day out, in a converted Barn, with 40+ people, we prepared food & drink for Each other, & Janis plus Mr. Clarke & her guy who sells the CD's, books, etc. Lovely memories!

  13. Mimi Strathmann

    Thanks for sharing, Joan!