Song Secrets: Old Dominion’s ‘Memory Lane’ Lyrics Built on an Unforgettable Hook
"It's been a long time since we had a new song that connected so immediately," singer Matt Ramsey tells Taste of Country. "The volume of the audience when that first line hits is overwhelming."
It's not fair to say the group was in a slump. They're the reigning CMA and ACM Group of the Year winners, and their last three songs have hit Top 20 (two went Top 10).
They just started their career with a batch of chart-toppers — "Break Up With Him," "Song for Another Time" and "Hotel Key" are three that come to mind — and when that happens, there's nowhere to go but down.
So, when Ramsey, Trevor Rosen and Brad Tursi joined hitmaker Jessie Jo Dillon to write, sure they were hoping for something big. Ramsey and Rosen recall Tursi having the guitar lick and Dillon the title.
No one can recall who first submitted, "If I could buy a house on Memory Lane." If there was a CMA Award for Song Hook of the Year, the song's opening lyric might win it.
"The second we said that," Rosen tells ToC, "we were like 'Oh, that's the whole song right there. That line, once we get that idea it's like, all we have to do is fill in the rest of the song with a hit chorus and some good lines."
He's exaggerating, but only slightly. That concept seems so easy that it's stunning nobody had ever written that, or at the very least popularized it.
"It was almost like a shock in the room where it fell into our laps and ... we were off on this journey," Ramsey shares. "We were all so in that moment."
Shane McAnally produced "Memory Lane," so perhaps he deserves credit for the song's non-traditional arrangement. There's barely a breath between chorus and verse, something that worries Ramsey as he thinks about performing it live. The opening line of the song becomes a second kind of refrain.
"You just build that energy and it keeps falling back onto that line," Rosen shares. "I don't know that we did it intentionally right off the bat, but when we fell back into that line, it just felt so good. It was like, I just want to keep falling back into that line."
"Memory Lane" is one of the new songs on Old Dominion's new Memory Lane EP, released in June.
Old Dominion, "Memory Lane" Lyrics:
If I could buy a house on Memory Lane / I’d put my money down and I’d sign my name / On that little corner lot, where it don’t ever rain / We’d stay good as new, like a fresh coat of paint / You’d be mine in the shine of the front porch light / Yeah I might as well live there baby / That’s where I spend most of my time.
Thinking about those sunsets that bled into jean jacket nights / Those tangled up mornings lost in paradise / Still drunk on the feeling when I close my eyes / You’re pulling me closer, your head on my shoulder / We’d never let go and we’d never be older.
If I could buy a house on Memory Lane / I wouldn’t have to wonder if you missed me the same / I’d be loving as usual, telling you you’re beautiful / I’d be happily delusional.
If I could buy a house on Memory Lane / I’d put my money down and I’d sign my name / On that little corner lot, where it don’t ever rain / And baby me and you would never fade, never fade.
We’d never fade. Never fade, never fade.