We have all driven by them or flown over them, passed by them or looked over them. And if we are being totally truthful, we have all silently mocked one or two of them on our way to something better.
They are tiny towns, and Laine Hardy is from one of the tiniest.
“I mean, you can go on the river or ride four-wheelers, but yeah, on Friday nights you usually just call your buddies and hang out because there really isn’t much to do,” chuckles Hardy, who was born, raised and remains in Livingston, Louisiana, which at last count was the home of 1,974 fine people.
Yes, 1,974 of his kind of people.
“Well, I grew up here around all these people and around all my relatives,” Hardy continues. “It’s just a place that is warm and welcoming and it’s a place that just makes me happy. And when I am away from home, I miss it a lot. I’m very proud of where I come from.”
It’s these sentiments and more that one can hear in Hardy’s debut single “Tiny Town,” a lyrical cup of hometown nostalgia that probably wouldn’t feel as authentic if Hardy himself wasn’t singing it. The enchanting song has already garnered over 2 million audio and video streams and now joins Hardy’s growing catalog of authentic songs such as “Ground I Grew Up On” and “Let There Be Country.”
But Hardy didn’t write “Tiny Town.”
But he wished he did.
“I was in Nashville last year and I met with (producer) Michael Knox, and yeah, Mr. Michael is just awesome,” Hardy says, his Southern drawl and Southern hospitality dripping off his every word. “He had me listen to ‘Tiny Town,’ which actually Michael Tyler wrote by himself, which is just crazy to me, but the words and references to small towns was not only relatable to me, but is just so relatable to a lot of people across the United States.”
So relatable, in fact, that Hardy probably could have wrote the song himself. But at the time, the aspiring songwriter who started playing the guitar at just six years old wasn’t quite ready for that.
“When I hear songs that are not written by me, it’s like art,” he says quietly. “There are just so many songwriters in Nashville. They deserve to be heard. So when a song speaks to my heart, I have no problem going with it, even if I didn’t write it.”
Granted, the art of songwriting is something that Hardy continues to perfect. Heck, as the kid Luke Bryan couldn’t get enough of and the eventual winner on Season 17 of American Idol, Hardy hadn’t ever even written a song, or at least a song he wanted anyone to hear.
“When I got into songwriting last year, I was so nervous because I had never written a song in my life,” remembers Hardy, who now travels to Nashville every other week for ‘writes, meetings and other stuff.’ “I mean, I had tried, but I didn’t really know how to do it. So when I went into my first co-write, I was very scared. But all of these songwriters are really nice people. They are so open-minded and made me comfortable to just throw some ideas around. They taught me a lot.”
Like, how he should hum a melody into his phone whenever the idea strikes, and then try to mimic it on his guitar later. Or to always type down the words when they come, no matter where he might be. So yes, this whole songwriting thing is coming along. In fact, Hardy recently co-wrote the rootsy “OtherLA” alongside Andy Sheridan, Erik Dylan and Dan Isbell.
“Yes ma’am, I’m pretty proud of that one,” he chuckles, his underlying shyness permeating through his increasing confidence. “I’m still learning the ins and outs of songwriting. I would love to write more. I want to hone my craft and learn a whole lot more.”
Indeed, at just 20 years old, this is a time of intense learning for Hardy both in and out of the writing room.
Because yes, Hardy is totally and completely in love.
“Yes ma’am I am,” he confirms with the strongest voice of the interview. “Love is the root of everything and I think it’s going to play a big role in my songwriting. I mean, whether you love a girl or you love to fish or you love to hunt, you can write down how you feel and maybe make it into a song.”