"Old Town Road" by Lil Nas X is the anthem of 2019 but while everybody can sing the lyrics, what do they actually mean? Lil Nas X’s self-described ‘country rap’ anthem was released in late 2018 and rose to popularity with the help of the app TikTok where it inspired the Yeehaw Challenge meme. A remix of "Old Town Road" featuring country singer Billy Ray Cyrus was released in April 2019 and the song went on to peak at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and stayed there for a record-breaking 19 weeks.
It was the song on everybody’s lips in summer 2019 and as such there’s been a lot of discussion about what the "Old Town Road" lyrics mean - which is something Lil Nas X has had a bit of fun with. In June 2019 he trolled Twitter with a tweet joking that "Old Town Road" was about climate change. Later – after he came out during Pride Month and fans speculated the song must have some hidden homoerotic meaning – Lil Nas X shut them down by tweeting “old town road is literally about horses.”
"Old Town Road" is about much more than riding horses though. In an interview with song lyrics site Genius, Lil Nas X explained the titular road represents the path to success and the horse he’s riding represents that while he may not have had much at that point in his life, he did have the talent and determination to make it. Hence the “You can whip your Porsche” line refers to the fact he doesn’t need all the riches and trappings often seen in hip-hop to succeed.
Some "Old Town Road" fans have interpreted the chorus lyrics (Can't nobody tell me nothin', You can't tell me nothin') as a homage to Kanye West’s similarly titled song but really it’s a message to people who didn’t think he could make it in the music industry. It’s Little Nas X’s way of saying that despite the naysayers, he’s still giving it a shot.
The second verse of "Old Town Road" is about Lil Nas X imagining what fame is like. He’s upgraded from a horse to a tractor and he’s wearing designer clothes like that “Cowboy hat from Gucci”, but he’s also committing adultery and doing drugs – suggesting the excesses of fame aren’t all that great. So, while the "Old Town Road" lyrics are kind of about horses, on a deeper level they’re also about the trappings of fame and having the determination to pursue your goals in the face of adversity.