While working a summer job in the New Mexican backwoods as a teenager, David Burchfield and his friends spent their evenings playing music around the campfire. This experience taught him two things that would change his life: he realized that his heart belonged to the Rocky Mountains, and he learned that a great song doesn’t need bells and whistles to be powerful.
“I grew up in Kansas City and spent most of my teens and early 20s wishing that I lived in Colorado,” he says. “I was just feeling that pull to get out of my hometown, and see what else was out there, and to be surrounded by the majesty of the mountains out West.”
Years later, that memory of those feelings inspired his new single, “O Big City.”
“This song is about feeling displaced and the discomfort that goes with that,” he says of the track, which comes from his forthcoming full-length album, State to State (set for release on April 24). The song – intertwining Americana and folk – builds laid back verses into jaunty choruses, with guitar, fiddle and organ providing an easygoing backdrop for Burchfield’s wistful lyrics.
“O Big City” takes an unflinching look at how hard it can actually be to follow where your heart is trying to lead you, as Burchfield discovered when he finally attempted to put down roots in the West. “When I finally made my first move to Golden, Colorado, it was kind of a false start,” he admits. “I went out for a seasonal job and when it was over, I didn’t have much else to keep me afloat. So I came back home to K.C. to chase this girl I’d been seeing and I was just miserable. I avoided all my friends for a while – I was just unwilling to acknowledge that I’d bailed on the dream so quickly.”
Despite the subject matter, this is not a depressed song. The straightforward style Burchfield uses is in keeping with those early lessons he learned around the campfire – the music doesn’t rely on flashy tricks to make an impression, and there is no self-pity in the clear-eyed lyrics. This type of solid songcraft would make Burchfield fit right in on a bill with the likes of Lucinda Williams or Jason Isbell.
Although “O Big City” tells the story of someone left yearning for somewhere else, it turns out that Burchfield’s real-life story has a happy ending: “I eventually moved back to Colorado and a couple years later I met my wife.”
He has also established a loyal fanbase, proving that the Rocky Mountains truly are the right home for him, and for his music.