Old Dominion Scores 9th No. 1 With Fan Favorite "Memory Lane"
When Old Dominion lead singer Matthew Ramsey’s smoky tenor started “If I could buy a house on memory lane, I’d put my money down and sign my name…,” it felt like everything good about life. Reassuring, sweeping, the kind of intimacy that’s made the 6-time Academy of Country Music and 5-time Country Music Association “Vocal Group of the Year” one of contemporary music’s most bankable bands.
MASON ALLEN / COURTESY PHOTO
However, no one expected the song to smash the record for the most points by a duo or group in a single week (33,936 in a single week), or the most spins in a single week by a duo or group (9,124plays breaking Old Dominion’s own record of 9,050 on “No Such Thing As A Broken Heart”). That velocity saw the effervescent homage to the best moments in a life take “Memory Lane” to #1; the third largest point increase behind “I Called Mama” and “Tennessee Orange” saw the power-of-positivity fivesome tap into America’s heart.
“Somehow with that first line, when it happened in the writing session, all of us were immediately zapped into our little trip to that place,” Mathew Ramsey marvels as news of the song topping the charts arrives. “And that happens for everyone. When people hear it, they’re transported to wherever it is for them. You can see it on their faces, and it’s amazing watching that expression [of delight] light up an entire arena.”
With their 8-song Memory Lane EP finally delivered to the fans, Old Dominion has taken their downtime from the pandemic to sort through what’s important as a band and as full-grown men. That sense of priorities and taking life on its terms permeates the collection; “Memory Lane” suggesting how precious the moments are – and how sweet hanging onto the best of whatever’s happened can be.
“We were certainly at a highpoint when the pandemic lockdown happened,” Ramsey says. “The rug got pulled out from under us, shifting how we saw everything about making music, what we give and mean to our fans, why we do what we do. There was some real introspection and discovery for us as individuals and as a band, and I think it made our music richer and truer for the people who’ve been listening.”
The vibrant track – punctuated by a circling electric guitar part and the percolating drum pattern – suggests sifting through one’s reflections for the highwater marks in a relationship that’s gone. Whatever happened, it’s done, but that doesn’t make the good stuff any less wonderful.
“I can’t decide if it’s happy or sad,” admits Ramsey, who wrote the song with Jessi Jo Dillion, bandmates Brad Tursi and Trevor Rosen. “The reality is I’m so glad to have that place to go to. It definitely has a bounce to it, so it feels good; but when you listen, it’s a really deep nursery rhyme. If you’re young, it’s that hopeful space, but for an adult who’s been through some stuff, it’s a pretty great place to land.”
Landing is something the five writer/player band is good at. Whether headlining their own sold-out arena tour – most recently capping Memory Lane’s street week with two sold out nights of 15,000 fans in Lake Tahoe – or conjuring some of country radio’s most inescapable ear worms, including “I Was On A Boat That Day,” “Written In The Sand,” Break Up With Him,” “Song for Another Time,” “No Hard Feelings” and “Hotel Key,” Ramsey, Rosen, Tursi, Whit Sellers and Geoff Sprung have spent the last decade creating a space for people who want to experience joy in even their hardest spaces.
Exuberant, engaged, willing to throw their hearts to the night, their ninth #1 suggests Old Dominion is finding a new gear – and sowing songs that make the bittersweet and the sweet something worth playing all day long. Whether in concert, on a car stereo or streaming service somewhere, Old Dominion is the sound of being alive and living one’s best life. As Ramsey laughs, “We sure try. Just listen.”