Prosper, Texas

Western Homes by J.R Ball

What city do you live in? What neighborhood?

Just down the road. You’ll find it.

What are some adjectives that describe your neighborhood?

Rural, Americana, America, Country.

How long have you lived there, and what brought you there?

After a series of unforeseen events, I found myself saying goodbye to my adopted-hometown of Austin, Texas. I was forced to “relocate” and move back in with my folks, who live in a small town about an hour north of Dallas. I saw leaving Austin as an artistic death sentence. Little did I know just how much creative direction I would find in the expanse of open fields and dilapidated barns.

Drive in any direction and you’ll find a town that time has left behind. There’s a quiet honesty about the country and its people that don’t try to disguise itself in Prada shoes and self-tanner. For someone who’s spent all his life living in cities, it’s refreshing.

What is your favorite thing about this place? Your least favorite?

On a rainy day, you can find shelter in a ramshackle barn, and you can always find solace in the honesty of a rusted pickup.

My least favorite part? Trying to persuade friends to visit. That first part doesn’t usually cut it.

Do you feel that you belong there?

Sometimes it feels like all of this rural abandon is just for you; all yours to find. Which might be true because, quite often, you’re the only one around.

What is the most common misconception about where you live?

That it’s part of Dallas. Let me tell you, it isn’t.

What is a special fact about your city that you have to live there to know?

Jesse James, his brother Frank, and the rest of The James Gang once frequented these parts. I do believe they had some hiccups with the law.

What aspect of your city do you secretly love?

The stillness.

Anything else you’d like to add?

My iPod holds a ridiculous amount of songs. Regardless, I only listen to three artists: Whiskeytown, Neko Case and Wilco. I drive around, armed with a manual film camera as old as I am, and find visual translations of the imagery that is conjured through their lyrics.

It makes me feel connected to the place and I live and appreciate the impact the country has had on countless artists that came before.