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Exclusive: How 9-11 inspired Montgomery Gentry’s biggest hit ‘My Town’

“My Town” was a Top 5 hit when it was released in 2002

The songwriter behind one of Montgomery Gentry’s biggest hits reminisced about composing the group’s breakout song.

At a recent New York songwriter’s cafe on September 6th, our own Matt Bailey had the opportunity to sit down with Jeffrey Steele. Steele is one of two songwriters, along with Reed Nelson, behind “My Town,” the group’s 2002 single off the album of the same name.

“I was in Durango, Colorado, playing a festival with [co-writer] Reed Nelson. 9-11 had just happened,” Steele explains. “I was talking with him about driving the rental car out to Durango, and about how every town had like a water tower, and a white church. Everything was kind of the same in every town. We were laughing about it, asking, ‘Who lives in these towns?’ And at one point someone said ‘Well, it’s their town.’ That kind of spawned into a thought.”

Of using 9-11 as the inspiration, Steele states, “We were watching the coverage on TV. [The attack] was still fresh in everybody’s mind. I was amazed at how everybody in New York City kind of became a small town. All the boroughs came together, everybody was helping each other. From there, the thought got a little bit bigger.”

As for the melody, Steele says that Nelson encouraged him to play his guitar warm-up exercise to a rhythm. That, he said, provided the “backbone” for the lyrics they had been crafting.

This interview took place just two days before a helicopter crash killed Troy Gentry and the aircraft’s pilot. The crash, which occurred in Medford, NJ just before a Montgomery Gentry show that night, was apparently caused by mechanical issues which the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has confirmed as engine failure. The duo were ACM and AMA award winners, as well as members of the Grand Ole Opry.

There is no word on whether Jeffrey Steele will perform at Gentry’s funeral, which is set to take place at the Opry House in Nashville, TN later this morning (Thurs, Sept 14th).