Country singer David Nail loves living in Nashville. But there’s something about the bootheel region of Missouri that he desperately misses.
The Kennett, Missouri, native shares this on his new song “Back Home” from his appropriately dubbed EP “Bootheel.”
“‘Back Home’ was very autobiographical for me,” he says. “Something that’s always troubled me is the person who’s so hellbent on leaving their small town or city and putting where they grew up behind them.
“That shapes you. If you spend 18, 19 years of your life someplace, I think it’s forever in you. I have a strong fondness and love for where and how I grew up. I’ve felt it’s my duty to never let it go unsaid how much I appreciate everything my friends back home, my family, my teachers, my community and my church have done.”
Nail quickly adds, “That was a middle finger to those people who maybe feel like where they grew up held them back in any way, shape or form.”
He insists he and his wife, Catherine, will end up back in Missouri. Nail felt the strong pull of home and how important it is during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“My hometown is a classic town that’s dying a slow death. A lot of businesses are closing every year,” he says. “A year like this caused a lot of people to struggle. Maybe it’s the old rose-colored glasses thing, but it’s still super endearing to me. I have so many fond memories and friends back home. It’s super special.”
Certain cities are like that, though. He cites as a further example one of his best friends—a former NHL player—who’s from Detroit.
“Detroit has had a hard run,” he says. “But people who are from Detroit love Detroit. It can get the worst publicity or have the worst crime. It can be the poorest whatever and have the most negative description possible, but they swear by it. I’ve always loved that.”
The pandemic hasn’t been all that bad for Nail, he says. He’s a little annoyed and maybe a tad down, but Catherine was pregnant most of the year, and he had that to look forward to.
“It was the classic case of who’s affected more,” he adds. “There are people hurting worse than us. It’s hard to feel bad or feel sorry for yourself too much. People are losing their lives.”
He started recording “Bootheel” just before “everything hit the fan.” The EP was put on hold for the majority of the summer. Nail wanted to work on it, but a few of his band members were—understandably—a little nervous about leaving their homes.
“I really didn’t think we were going to be able to do anything,” he says. “It was a super bummer because, in 2019, I was really inspired going into 2020. I was excited about what the year had in store, both on the road and I wanted to do four EPs—one a quarter. It basically would have been a record’s worth of material spread out.”
Around Halloween, he called his piano player and asked if they could revisit the songs they started and see how polished they could get them. Nail quickly threw aside those intentions and opted for a stripped-down EP.
“Everything happens for a reason,” he contends. “The music fit the vibe of what the year’s been. I knew if I didn’t do it this year and got it out this year, it was going to change drastically in the future or the songs would never be released.
“Everybody told me it was crazy to release non-Christmas music in December. It’s 2020. We got it out in the nick of time. I thought about doing a Christmas song as a hidden track so everybody would be happy. But that would totally contradict every other part of the music. I figured I’d just roll with the punches and do it my way.”
David Nail, davidnail.com.