Singled Out: Once Great Estate's Shelbyville Inn

Keavin Wiggins | 09-02-2021

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Photo courtesy MTS

Once Great Estate just released their new album "Even the Undertaker" and to celebrate we asked Tracy Horenbein to tell us about the song "Shelbyville Inn". Here is the story:

One of my favorite songs on our new album "Even the Undertaker" is Shelbyville Inn. Not only is it one of the more rockin' barn burners among the bunch, it invokes fond memories from my childhood.

For many years every Summer my family would drive from Tallahassee, Florida all the way up to Shelbyville, Tennessee. We had Tennessee Walking Horses, and my mom would show in the National Championship competition that was held there.

The first few trips we made were by Winnebago, which was quite an adventure. I'm not sure my dad was qualified to be driving a large RV, but somehow we arrived unscathed for several seasons. I remember hearing the Outlaws (Waylon, Willie, Jessie, and Tompall) tape on repeat for most of the trip. It was either the Outlaws, Elton John's Yellow Brick Road, or Jim Croce. Looking back now, I really had no choice other than to be a songwriter with influences like that.

After a few years of risking our lives navigating the mountain highway, we retired the RV and moved up to the big time. We began staying at a place called the Blue Ribbon Inn, which was the basis for the song title. I didn't want to get sued or anything, so I changed it to Shelbyville Inn. I believe it's still a place you can stay in Shelbyville.

When I sat down to write the song, I already had a pretty good idea as far as what I wanted to convey to the listener. I'm big on telling stories, so I wanted to paint a picture. I thought it would be cool in the verses to kind of reflect on how I remembered Shelbyville as a kid. But I wanted to bring the listener up to more modern day possibilities with the chorus. Back in the day, the setting was a very specific microcosm of these horse people. Everyone kind of looked the same, and had similar views. I wanted to reimagine that setting as a more inclusive and welcoming place for all.

As far as the music was concerned, I've got no shame in telling you what vibe I was going for. Jason Isbell is my favorite songwriter, and I was totally trying to create a similar feel to his tune Super 8. Just a fun, hell rasin' kind of song. Although our version of Shelbyville Inn on the album is primarily acoustic, when we play the song live with three electric guitars, it slaps.

Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen and watch for yourself below and learn more about the album here

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Singled Out: Once Great Estate's Shelbyville Inn

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